Andrew Mitchell – 2019 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrew Mitchell, the Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield, in the House of Commons on 29 March 2019.

I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. It is a great pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson), whom I first met more than 25 years ago, when he was the mayor of Belfast.

I want to speak up today for compromise. I find myself very much drawn to the arguments put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith)—I was of course his Whip more than a quarter of a century ago, during the Maastricht debates. Today, we are in absolute agreement, and I think he spoke extremely well in the cause of compromise.​

I voted against the Prime Minister’s deal in January because I thought there was time for the overall deal to be changed in the best interests of those I represent in the royal town of Sutton Coldfield. However, I voted for it earlier this month, because I thought the options and the opportunities had narrowed significantly, and I will be voting for it today.

I do not like the deal. I have concluded that it is the least worst option. I am particularly worried about the backstop, but above all the central point that I am worried about, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) mentioned, is that the way that we have gone about this has breached the fundamental rule, which certainly applied when I used to go to ministerial meetings in Brussels, that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. It is the failure to endorse that cardinal principle of negotiating with the EU that has let us down so badly.

The Government have found a way to keep themselves compliant with your directions from the Chair, Mr Speaker, but today we are essentially discussing and voting on the Government’s deal. I will vote for it. If it goes down tonight and the Government fail, this House must accept that we are back, fair and square, in the process set out by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin), which I supported. It was no surprise at all that the House did not make a decision on Wednesday this week and effectively voted no to everything, but if the Government fail today, the House must recognise that the votes on Monday will be extremely important. In my judgment, it is likely that the House will vote yes to at least two of those options.

Matt Western (Warwick and Leamington) (Lab)

The right hon. Gentleman is making an important point. Was he not also in some way inspired by the process a couple of days ago, in that on Monday we have an opportunity to vote for something for which there could be a majority? In fact, just two days ago, three options achieved more votes than the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement did in two previous votes.

Mr Mitchell

The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point in his own way, but my point is that on Monday the House will need to choose. If the Government cannot do it, the House must do it, and we must remember that in spite of some of the things that are said, including from the Government Front Bench, the Government are accountable to Parliament and not the other way round. No two colleagues agree entirely in what they say in this House, but in my view there will be a result on Monday, and the Government must honour it.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) rose—

Mr Mitchell

I am so sorry; I do not have time to give way.

I hope very much that the Prime Minister will agree that members of the Cabinet—all Ministers—can vote freely on Monday. Otherwise, senior Members of Parliament will be disenfranchised from this process. There should not be a Whip. If we come to this on Monday, it will be a House of Commons occasion. The House of Commons must seek to sort it out.​
I find myself in a minority in the House of Commons. I think the House overstates the dangers of no deal. I do not believe there is such a thing as no deal. I think that, were we to leave with what is called no deal, there will be a whole series of smaller deals, some temporary and some more permanent, and some stops, so I do not worry as much as many of my colleagues do about the dangers of no deal.

Equally, I think that the House massively underestimates the dangers of advancing towards a second referendum. The anger, irritation and annoyance of our constituents will be palpable, and in my judgment, it would be very likely to solve nothing at all. Imagine the nightmare of the country reversing the earlier vote and voting 48:52 to remain. What would that mean for our democracy? What would that mean for the votes of the people in both those referendums? For this House to advance down the route of another referendum would in my view be a very serious mistake indeed. However, if the Government cannot do a deal that the House of Commons will accept, and if the House of Commons cannot come to an agreement in the way that I have described, the ineluctable logic of that position is that it will have to be referred again to the British people, and in my view that would be an absolute disaster.

I end on this point. This is an important negotiation. I think that we have been out-manoeuvred as a country by the European Commission and the 27 standing absolutely firm, as they said they would, which many of us did not believe. However, this is an important negotiation, and they have interests and we have interests. In my judgment, unless the European Union and the Commission can show a little bit more of a sense of compromise on what the Government have been saying, it will leave a profound legacy of bitterness across the channel between the European Union and this country. They are our friends and partners. We will trade with them, do business with them and work with them over the coming years and generations. We also have huge security interests that bind us together. I obviously hope that the Government are successful today, but if they are not and we move into those further processes—the unknown—the Commission will also bear in mind its interest in trying to reach a deal that is good for both parties and is not imposed on one of those parties.

Andrew Mitchell – 2016 Speech in Tribute to Jo Cox

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrew Mitchell, the Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield, in the House of Commons on 20 June 2016.

Today we mourn the terrible loss of our friend and colleague Jo, so tragically murdered as she went about her constituency duties last Thursday. The life has been taken of a truly exceptional woman, whose goodness and passionate dedication to humanitarian values has inspired us all. I knew her as a friend, but how unbearable must it be for those who mourn her as a daughter, sister, husband and, above all, as their beloved mum, whom they used to visit for tea each week in Portcullis House.

I first met Jo 10 years ago in London, when we marched against injustice in Darfur, and on two visits to al-Fashir in Darfur, where she helped develop a central humanitarian role for Oxfam. The Leader of the Opposition, as he then was, and I stayed there with her and other humanitarian workers and witnessed her crucial role for Oxfam in supporting women and children and securing water for thousands of refugees in the El Salam and Abu Shouk camps. She gave me the green wristband—I wear it still—to ensure that we remembered the desperate people caught up in what President Bush rightly described as a genocide. It is among her many friends and colleagues in the international humanitarian and development family all around the world, of which she was such a respected and experienced member, that she will be mourned and remembered as a staunch friend of the most desperate and deprived in our world and as a campaigner against injustice.

When she entered this House just 13 short months ago, she rapidly used her deep knowledge to champion the dispossessed. She was Labour to her fingertips, but restlessly dismissive of party political manoeuvring, which she saw as a barrier to progress. Making common cause with a crusty old Tory, she and I became co-chairs of the all-party Friends of Syria.

And she was brave: her energy and effectiveness were an inspiration. We invited ourselves to tea with the Russian ambassador in his London residence. With clever charm but steely determination, this five-foot bundle of old-fashioned Yorkshire common sense dressed him down for his country’s cruelty and cynicism in Syria. I do not believe the Russian ambassador will easily forget that visit.

I think there are many things Jo would want us to remember this afternoon. May I mention just two? I do not believe she would want this vile and unspeakable act to change the open and accessible relationship we enjoy with our constituents. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] All of us take the advice of our local police in protecting those who work with and support us. Thankfully, the record shows these attacks are as infrequent as they are disgraceful. Secondly, Jo would want us in this House to redouble our efforts to resolve the greatest catastrophe of our age: the crisis in Syria, where the lives of more than 11 million people have been ruined while the international community has shown itself disorganised, ineffective and supine.

I mourn Jo today as a friend and as a colleague, but most of all I mourn for her as a mother, whose two gorgeous children will now have to chart the shoals and eddies of life without the love and support of their wonderful, lovely mum.

Andrew Mitchell – 1987 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Andrew Mitchell in the House of Commons on 20 July 1987.

I rise to address the House for the first time in a spirit of great humility—deeply honoured to represent my constituency in this place.

I am particularly pleased to have caught your eye relatively early in the Session, Madam Deputy Speaker, so that I may pay tribute to my predecessor, Sir Philip Holland. Philip’s love and knowledge of this place and his service to his constituency was well known and well respected—as much in Gedling as in this House.

I mean no disrespect to Acton when I say that Philip graduated from that seat, from 1959 to 1964, to Carlton, which he went on to represent for 21 years—latterly as the constituency of Gedling, following the Boundary Commission’s most recent review.

Any hon. Member who chairs the Committee of Selection and yet remains so well liked and respected by hon. Members on both sides of the House must be endowed with the greatest of skills. Only time will tell whether any of my hon. Friends will take up Sir Philip’s mantle as a great hunter of quangos. I have been left in no doubt over the past few weeks that Philip’s many friends on both sides of the House will join me in wishing him and Lady Jo Holland a long and happy retirement.

The House may be aware that I am not the first member of my family to have taken his seat in this House; indeed, I am at least the fourth to have done so. Nevertheless, over the past three weeks I have come to the confident conclusion that not since Lloyd George have so many people known my father.

I beg to suggest that the constituency of Gedling is insufficiently well known outside Nottinghamshire. The rural deanery of Gedling, which gave its name to the refashioned seat of Carlton in 1983, is far more compact than its predecessor, having lost all the land south of the River Trent. My constituency stands at the crossroads of England, with a foot in the north, a foot in the south, but its heart in the Midlands.

Many hon. Members wax lyrical about the rural or urban nature of their constituencies and their agricultural or commercial interests. The great delight and at traction of the Gedling constituency lies in the exciting cross-section of the great variety of our national life that it provides. From the rural beauty and farming lands at the northern end to the more industrial areas of Netherfield and Colwick, my constituency includes the prime residential areas of Carlton, Woodthorpe and Arnold, perched either side of a hilly ridge. It also contains the attractive villages of Gedling, Burton Joyce and Stoke Bardolph, which include two of the most beautiful churches in the country which date from Saxon times. The Gedling colliery is achieving record productivity. It has been recruiting new members to the industry over the past six months and is an important feature of my constituency.

The quality of life enjoyed by my constituents is, by and large, excellent. We are particularly well served by the fine health facilities in Nottinghamshire which have seen a 30 per cent. decrease in waiting lists over the past four years. My constituents profit from living under the benign sway of the Gedling borough council, which is continuously singled out for praise by the Audit Commission for its standards of efficiency and service provision. Indeed, the council had its own version of the right to buy before the Government introduced their Housing Bill in 1980. We receive national and international delegations to inspect our housing schemes for the elderly and the frail elderly.

Of great significance is the fact that Gedling lies alongside the city of Nottingham. We know only too well that what happens in Nottingham today affects us in Gedling tomorrow. Gedling’s wealth and success are inextricably linked to the future of Nottingham city. As I try to follow that rocky pathway which is the lot of a Government Back Bencher, travelling as it does between toadyism and revolt, I shall be hoping, Madam Deputy Speaker, to catch your eye in the future when the Government’s bold plans to tackle the problems of our inner city come under discussion. We have much to be proud of in Gedling, and I am pleased to have been able to tell the House briefly some of those things.

Many of my constituents have followed the passage of this Bill with keen interest. The measures which passed into law before the election were widely welcomed. The help for business in dealing with VAT and in reducing small companies’ corporation tax was warmly supported, as was the further help for the blind and the elderly. Above all, we have had the welcome reduction in income tax. Today we are asked to give a Third Reading to this Bill. the greater part of which reintroduces proposals for tax relief for profit-related pay, as well as extending the accessibility and flexibility of personal pension schemes. I warmly welcome both measures. As my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary said on Second Reading: The working of the labour market remains one of the greatest weaknesses in this country.” —[Official Report, 8 July 1987; Vol. 119, c. 356.] There is common cause on both sides of the House that the level of unemployment remains appallingly high.

I hope that I am being equally uncontroversial when I say that it is the supply side of our economy that must particularly command our attention and the Bill, with these two principal measures, makes a direct contribution on that front. In spite of significant progress on the supply side, there remain real restrictions on job mobility, occasioned by the lack of private rented accommodation and immobility within the council housing system.

The problems within education and training are well rehearsed, but the results are that we do not always turn out children equipped to compete in today’s industries or win tomorrow’s jobs. There are still problems within the labour market which hinder productivity along with our industrial performance. Above all, there is the absurdity of a system whose rigidities can attribute greater value to being unemployed than to working.

Tax relief for profit-related pay will ecourage the widespread adoption of such schemes and will help to dispel any vestige of that bizarre myth which was prevalent during the days of our economic decline in some parts of the private sector —that pay is somehow not in reality always directly linked to profitability.

These measures will help further to eradicate the them-and-us sentiments which for so long have dogged British industry. They will extend and enhance a community of interest between employee, employer and shareholder and secure a more motivated and committed work force. Above all, who can doubt that such measures, when implemented, will act to cut unemployment by ensuring less risk for an employer contemplating taking on labour as well as acting as an alternative to redundancy when times are bad?

I believe that the clauses which relate to private pensions will secure an equally warm welcome. They improve the lot of the early leaver, and perhaps I should declare an interest at this point. It is a sad fact that many who have changed careers during their working life are particularly disadvantaged in respect of their pension entitlements. The relevant clauses in the Bill will not only increase the freedom to choose in pension planning but free another rigidity in the labour market over the long term.

The Bill’s provisions join the many other economic measures taken by the Government to improve choice and freedom for millions of our fellow citizens. Such measures also extend personal responsibility greatly within society. It is the extent to which these opportunities and responsibilities have been grasped throughout society which is truly remarkable. Many of these measures have been practical methods to improve the commercial operation of our economy, but they are part of a shift in opinions and ideas, and expression of a new consensus which has sprung up. They mark a sea change in public opinion. It may be that the Falklands factor disguised the extent of support for this new reality, but the 1987 third election victory is a message which cannot be ignored on the Opposition Benches. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) acknowledges these truths in his books and in his more recent speech in the debate on the Loyal Address. I dare to suggest that even the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) has shown an awareness of these new realities and aspirations over the past few weeks.

It was a Conservative Prime Minister returning to office in 1951 who reflected in the House that the nation required time to allow certain Socialist legislation to reach its full fruition. Although the positions are not comparable, I hope that the Opposition will accept how great has been the revolution in the spread of choice and ownership within society as well as in personal responsibilities keenly grasped. It is time for the Opposition to embrace these verities.

Andrew Mitchell – 2012 Speech on Climate Change

Below is the text of the speech made by the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, at Lancaster House in London on 26th April 2012.

Whether it’s to run the computers of City workers, or to power the sewing machines of Ghanaian seamstresses, we all need energy.

But, handled carelessly, energy can be our enemy as well as our friend. The more fossil-fuelled energy we use the more CO2 we produce. And the more CO2 we produce the greater our vulnerability to climate change.

Climate change will hit the world’s poorest people first and hardest – as we see so clearly around the world today – with droughts, floods and famines set to increase in frequency and intensity. The numbers of people at risk of hunger as a result of climate change are projected to increase by between 5% and 20% by 2050, while in Sub-Saharan Africa, 10 million more children are expected to suffer from malnutrition.

Climate change will also affect us here in Britain. The renowned economist, Lord Stern, estimates that the economic cost of unmanaged climate change could be between 5% and 20% of global GDP. That contrasts with a 1-2% cost if we keep emissions at safe levels and support developing countries to adapt.

We’re pushing hard to secure an ambitious global deal on emissions, one that prevents global warming from rising above a global average of 2 degrees while also protecting poorer countries as they adapt to the impacts of climate change.

But we shouldn’t sit back and wait for a global deal we argue. There are things that we need to do now if we are to protect the world’s poorest people and help them to access the energy that will allow them to transform their economies.

Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and action agenda

I believe that the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, and the action agenda launched today, can play a critical role in accelerating progress on this issue.

No country – especially not our own which led the first Industrial Revolution – has grown without increasing energy. But the benefits aren’t just economic: for women and children in poor households, access to a clean, affordable and reliable energy supply lifts the burdens of drudgery, and the ill health imposed by cooking on open fires.

British aid is helping. We have set up a cross-Government International Climate Fund, with resources totaling nearly £3 billion. The Sustainable Energy for All Framework will enable us to better co-ordinate with our partners the investments which the Fund is making in clean energy.

Fresh thinking

One of the themes which will bring us closer to sustainable energy for all is innovation. My department, the Department for International Development, is exploring how Innovation Prizes might be used to reward fresh thinking in this area.  We also see an important role here for Climate Innovation Centres, and are supporting them in countries including India and Kenya, helping local entrepreneurs to turn ideas and technologies into viable businesses.

The goals of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative will not be achieved of course by public finance alone.  We need to unlock much greater amounts of private investment. Here again, the International Climate Fund has a vital role to play.

Take just one example: the Fund contributes to a multi-donor Climate Investment initiative that is now helping 45 developing countries to pilot low-carbon, climate-resilient development. This includes the Scaling-Up Renewable Energy Programme (SREP) which promises to deliver electricity to more than 2 million people in poor countries.  The additional contribution which the Deputy Prime Minister announced on Tuesday, could, for example, help mobilize finance to add another 500,000 to the electricity grid in Africa.

New Results-Based Financing facility 

I can also announce today that Britain will be supporting a new Results-Based Financing facility, working in Low Income countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.  We expect at least 2.5 million poor people to benefit from expanding markets in climate-friendly products, such as solar lanterns or cleaner cookstoves, or by local electricity grids driven, for example, by hydropower.

We are supporting these initiatives because we recognise that sustainable energy for all is a central element of our common future. The Framework being launched today offers us a clear set of actions to achieve this goal and to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and development.

We in Britain will deliver on our commitments, so too, must the wider international community.

Thank you.

Andrew Mitchell – 2011 Conservative Party Conference Speech

Below is the text of the speech made by the then International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, to the 2011 Conservative Party Conference on 2nd October 2011.

Conference, it is 50 years since a Conservative Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, set up what is now the Department for International Development.

Since then, we have made huge progress. But still today:

Every hour 180 children die needlessly from diarrhoea.

Tonight, millions of families will spend the hours after sunset in the dark, with no electricity, no running water, no healthcare.

And in South Sudan this girl is more likely to die during childbirth than she is to finish primary school. Let me just repeat that. This girl is more likely to die during childbirth than she is to finish primary school.

Even now, in Government, when I go to these places, I still feel overwhelmed by the scale of human suffering. But I am uplifted by the work being done to help and the progress Britain is leading.

So now, please join me in thanking Britain’s development team Alan Duncan, Stephen O’Brien, Lady Verma and Mark Lancaster for the role they are playing.

All of us in this team feel personally accountable for the way that taxpayers’ money is spent.

We know that every pound wasted is a pound not saving lives. So in our first few days in office, we cancelled over £100m of ineffective spending.

Let me say what else we’ve done to get our house in order.

We stopped Labour’s practice of sending DFID’s own glossy magazine around the world by airmail at a cost of nearly half a million pounds a year.

We stopped first-class travel. Just in Labour’s last year in office, they spent a staggering £75,000 on first-class rail tickets.  In our first year, it was just £197 – a reduction of over 99%. Why should British taxpayers pay over the odds to fund complementary cups of tea, when the people we are supposed to be helping don’t have running water?

And we stopped Labour’s quarter-of-a-million-pound funding for a Brazilian dance troupe in North London which specialises in percussion. At least that’s one Labour fandango which was easy to clear up.

Conference, this kind of loose spending is not just incompetent. It is an insult to British taxpayers.

Let us resolve together here today: no more Labour waste.

We’ve also fundamentally changed the way we direct our aid.

Look at the map.  Here’s where Labour thought it fit to spend aid while they were in office.

It doesn’t look like that any more.

No more aid to China, which spent billions hosting the Olympics. We closed it down.

Or Russia, a member of the G8.

As a result of our detailed review we’re closing DFID aid programmes in 16 countries. That, after all, is the whole aim of aid – do it well and then get out when it’s done.

So as you can see: we’re giving aid to the people who really need it, from the Ghurkha villages of Nepal, to the dignified people of Zimbabwe who have suffered so long under the tyrannical rule of Robert Mugabe.

And we were just as tough with the international organisations which get British taxpayers’ money. We’ve assessed them and ranked them.

Now some of these agencies are absolutely brilliant. Let me give you just one example.  We found that GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, was achieving amazing results.  So, along with Bill Gates, the private sector and other countries, we backed them. I can now tell you that for the next five years the British taxpayer will help to vaccinate a child every two seconds. Ladies and Gentleman, something as small and as simple as this will protect a life every two seconds for the next five years. Lives as important as those of our own children. I’m proud that Britain is leading the way in making that happen.

But some international organisations are doing less well.  We’ve put four of them into special measures. They need to make serious improvements. No improvements, no more cash from the British taxpayer.

And we’ve shown some organisations the red card. The International Labour Organisation was not delivering value for the core funding it received. So it’s not getting any more. Conference, I make no apology for saying: we have to be tough when lives are at stake.

This tough approach means that during the next 4 years we will achieve incredible results.

– We will get 11 million children into school in the poorest parts of the world

– 15 million people who don’t have it today will have safe drinking water

– And 10 million women who have never had access to family planning will have it for the first time.

And at this time when money is really tight, and the responsibility to spend it well has never been greater, we never forget: these results are paid for by the British taxpayer. When I visit these countries, people come up to me with a simple message. A message I pass on to you today: thank you, Britain, for standing by us in our hour of need.

Conference, this is Britain at its best.

And this government is focusing on two key areas: tackling conflict and promoting the private sector.

To deliver real value for money, we have to tackle the root causes of poverty. And chief among these is conflict.

And these problems affect us here. Terrorism, the drugs trade, infectious diseases, illegal migration – if we want to tackle these problems at home, we have to understand and address their root causes abroad.

Some say we can’t afford to engage in development. But Conference, we cannot afford not to.

So what does this mean in practice?

In Pakistan, we’re going to get 4 million children into school for the first time over the next 4 years. It is hard to think of a better way to tackle the poverty and illiteracy upon which the terrorist recruiters pray. This is good development and good politics.

In Somaliland we’re helping to build the police force to promote law and order.

In Afghanistan, right across the country our work to improve the business environment is paying off.

Don’t just take my word for it.

In July, General Sir David Richards, the head of Britain’s armed forces, said this:

“Alternative livelihoods and development assistance are as important as the determination and courage of our forces. Together they are a powerful combination that will leave an enduring legacy for the Afghan people, the region and international community.”

I completely agree with him.

And let us pay tribute today to every single one of the brave men and women of our armed forces, who are working night and day to keep our country safe.

Our forces’ action helped stop a bloody massacre in Benghazi, and helped create the conditions for the people of Libya to take control of their own destiny.

And long-term planning was part of the story from the beginning, the lessons of Iraq uppermost in our minds.  Today, working closely with William and Liam, we’re helping Libyans rebuild their country’s police and security forces.

The Arab Spring has inspired us all, as we see yet again that a yearning for freedom is deeply rooted in the human spirit.

So let us celebrate the spirit of the Arab Spring, and the millions of ordinary men and women who have made change happen. They are an inspiration to the world.

Just as conflict causes poverty, so it is the private sector – jobs, property rights, investment – that lifts a country out of poverty.

By the end of the last government, even Labour Ministers started to mouth words about the importance of the private sector in development. But somehow I always felt that, under the bedclothes late at night, they didn’t really believe it.

We do believe it.  It’s hard-wired into our Conservative DNA.

And we now for the first time have a private sector division within DFID, dedicated to promoting that age old Tory principle and truth: that no matter where in our world, private enterprise is the engine of growth and development.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, under your Government:

Britain’s development policies transformed.

Value for money demanded

Every day, lives saved.

All thanks to the determination, support and generosity of the people of Britain.

I want to leave you today with a thought and a photograph.

I met these children in July. They’re smiling here, but just a few days earlier they’d arrived from Somalia at the largest refugee camp in the world.

Many of them had shredded feet from walking through miles of desert for up to 30 days. Some of them had brothers or sisters who had died along the way.

Here on the outskirts of this vast camp they don’t have much, but at least they’re safe and have access to food.

And looking at these kids – I think of all the suffering they have faced, and the contrast with the lives of our own children.

And I also think that ours is a world where borders aren’t what they used to be…

…where threats to our security aren’t defined simply by national armies declaring war on each other…

…where our own prosperity depends upon poor countries becoming prosperous economies and trading partners.

One of these children could be the next Bill Gates or the person who discovers the cure for cancer.

I can’t think of any picture that better sums up the purpose of Britain’s development budget: a better life for millions of the world’s poorest, and a safer, more prosperous world for us all. Thank you.

Andrew Mitchell – 2010 Speech in Washington

Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP, addresses staff at the Department for International Development, London, 13 May 2010

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrew Mitchell, the then Secretary of State for International Development, in Washington on 26th June 2010.

As world leaders gather for the G8 Summit, I want today to argue that, over the course of the next five years, we have the means and the opportunity to put to an end some of the most egregious problems facing the world today. But that the only way we will do so is by putting women front and centre of all our efforts. Most importantly, I will argue that this is a perfect moment when, with political will and with leadership, we can change the course of history.

Our generations are the first that can make a real difference to the discrepancy of wealth and opportunity which exists around the world today. We know so much  more about what works and we know what needs to be done. We understand, for example, that it is conflict ultimately which mires people in poverty. If I think about those dreadful refugee camps that I’ve seen around the world, in Darfur and on the Burma/Thai border, if you are languishing in one of those camps, it doesn’t matter how much access to aid and to trade and to money which you have, until the conflict is over you are going to remain poor and miserable and fightened and dispossessed. And in just the same way we know that it is conflict which mires people in poverty and condemns them to stay there, so we now have learnt and generally accept that it is free trade and the private sector and wealth creation and enterprise and jobs which lift people out of poverty. And I must emphasize the importance, which should never be forgotten, on bringing the Doha round to a successful conclusion. A successful conclusion to the Doha round, and on any basis at all, would mean an increase in world trade of about $300 billion and the total amount of aid flows across the world is something like $150 billion. So the importance of the Doha trade round should never be forgotten. And lastly that money, aid spent well, works miracles, not least when we are talking about maternal health. This is the context within which I want to set my comments today.


Ladies and Gentlemen, this is my first overseas speech since becoming Secretary of State for International Development and I can think of no better place to deliver it than here, in the home of philanthropy: the Carnegie Endowment; and in that great hothouse of free thought that is Washington DC. And I’d like to congratulate Carnegie as they celebrate their Centennial this year. We have a great dialogue with Carnegie and regard Tom [Carothers] as a member of the Department for International Development family in Britain.

So, let me begin by paying tribute to President Obama and Secretary Clinton for their commitment to global development. I salute too, the tireless battle pursued against HIV/AIDS by President Bush. And I applaud the pioneering efforts of the Clinton Foundation; the campaign against River Blindness spearheaded by President Carter; and the inspirational work of Bill and Melinda Gates. You are true leaders, one and all.

Approach to development under new, coalition Government

I want to begin with a few words about our new coalition government, a government that is motivated by a shared determination to erode these vast inequalities of opportunity that I described and we see around the world today.

Ours is a new agenda, one of value for money; accountability; transparency and empowerment. We have promised to enshrine in law Britain’s commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid from 2013. And crucially, we will keep aid untied from commercial interests – in this I urge the US to follow our lead.

Millennium Development Goals

This new agenda will underpin our approach to the Millennium Development Goals. These goals, agreed by the UN ten years ago, were the concrete embodiment of our generations’ collective commitment to tackle the terrible poverty and suffering that afflict so many. As well as being in our own national interest that is also our shared moral obligation.


And yes, the commitment has led to some real results:

We are on track to halve extreme poverty;

We’ve made strong progress on universal primary education, where some thirteen African countries look set to achieve that MDG

Measles-related deaths fell by 78% between 2000 and 2008


However, in other areas – and indeed, even within those goals where we are doing quite well – progress is patchy. Most regions are off-track on tackling child mortality; while progress on maternal health is especially disappointing. It’s significant, too, that across all the goals, sub-Saharan Africa lags far behind.

And, however hard we try, new challenges constantly threaten our ability to meet the MDGs and jeopardise our gains. The world of 2010 is not the world of 2000. We’ve had food price hikes. A global recession. A massive increase in the cost of fuel.

Some argue that against this backdrop we should focus our attention on domestic priorities. I disagree. This is a time to reaffirm our promises to the world’s poor, not abandon them. We should never balance the books on the backs of the world’s poorest people. It is true that charity begins at home, but it doesn’t end there.

Promoting global prosperity is also very much in our own interests. Development is good for our economy, our safety, our health, our future. It is, quite simply, the best return on investment you’ll find: a cause that commands consensus across the political spectrum both in Britain and hopefully, here in America.

So, our response is not to abandon the MDGs but to encourage all parties to work towards a clear action plan that can be agreed at this September’s UN Summit. For our part, Britain will also be aligning development more effectively with other policies, whether with trade, investment and enterprise, climate change or economic growth.

In the UK, we have brought together the three policy pillars of development, defence and diplomacy through our new National Security Council. This synergy will allow us to reduce poverty in fragile states, while also building capacity and guaranteeing security and stability.

I know that balancing and integrating all of the elements of power is a major objective for you here in the States.

There are areas, however, where our approaches to development differ. In Britain, the Department for International Development is a separate Government Department in its own right. As its Secretary of State, I have a seat in Cabinet and on the National Security Council. A vibrant DFID, at the table, agitating, campaigning and helping to deliver progressive change for communities worldwide.

And in our Government, an equally vibrant coalition whose leaders share a vision of a world where everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their true potential. Abroad as well as at home, we believe in decentralising power and responsibility, empowering citizens, making governments more transparent and accountable.


Here in the States, President Obama has spoken out for greater transparency and accountability across his administration. Back in Britain, our Prime Minister, David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, have applied these same principles to our new coalition government.

That’s why one of the first things I did on taking office was to launch our new UK Aid Transparency Guarantee, a guarantee that will help to make aid transparent to citizens in the UK – and also to those in recipient countries too. This chimes with Raj Shah’s promise to embrace “extreme transparency” throughout USAID. I look forward to working with Raj and to discussing this with him when we meet again this afternoon.

Results-based aid

We’re also fundamentally redesigning our aid programmes so that they build in rigorous evaluation processes from day one. The focus will be on outputs and outcomes rather than inputs. In these difficult, economic times donors have a double duty, a responsibility to achieve maximum value for money: not just results but results at the lowest possible cost.

With this in mind, we want to test the concept of cash on delivery aid that’s been mooted by the Centre for Global Development. CGD has been the leader of so much great thinking on development, and Nancy Birdsall told me this morning that she learnt her trade here at Carnegie.

We’re also taking a fundamentally new approach to our bilateral and multilateral aid: reviewing what we do – and where – so that we can maintain a ruthless focus on results. At the same time, I’m setting up a new independent body that will gather evidence about the effectiveness of our programmes. Again, our two nations are on the same page: I know Raj Shah envisages a stronger focus on impact evaluation in USAID’s work.

Let me now, Tom, turn to the most off-track of the MDGs: maternal health.

Maternal health

When a jumbo jet crashes anywhere in the world it makes the headlines. If it were to crash week in week out in the same place there’s not a person alive who wouldn’t be talking about it. The international community would set up an enquiry and no money would be spared in making sure it never happened again. Yet, in Nigeria, the equivalent number of women die each and every week from pregnancy-related causes – and the world stands silent.

In Britain, we want to make a serious contribution to tackling this tragedy. Today, at the G8, our Prime Minister, David Cameron, is working with PM Harper and other G8 leaders to ensure the world delivers on its commitments to cut the number of women and children dying during pregnancy and childbirth in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The Prime Minister will argue today that it is indefensible in this, the twenty first century that for so many women, pregnancy and childbirth should represent a death sentence or at least, a morbid lottery. Or that the risk to a woman of dying in the UK due to a pregnancy-related cause at some point during her lifetime is 1 in 8,200 while in Niger, it is 1 in 7.

Every year, at least a third of a million women, and probably more, die due to complications in pregnancy or child birth. The vast majority of those deaths occur in low and middle income countries.

And research by my department tells us that if a mother dies in childbirth, there is a high chance her child will die within a few months too.

But we all know – it doesn’t have to be like this. As Melinda Gates said earlier this month, it’s not that we don’t know what to do or that we can’t do it. It’s that we haven’t tried hard enough. We have within our grasp a golden opportunity, a perfect moment when we have the technology and the political will – if not to eradicate maternal mortality – then to reduce it significantly.

The great blot on public health

History is on our side. The last time that the UK had a Conservative/Liberal coalition government was back in 1935. That coalition didn’t pull its punches when it referred to Britain’s maternal mortality rate as the “great blot on public health”. Determined to reverse the trend and with political will behind him, the British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin established a national midwifery service. This move, coupled with the necessary policies and resources, saw maternal deaths fall by 80% in just 15 years. The resonance with where we are today is uncanny and only serves to sharpen our government’s resolve to seek an equally radical result abroad.


We will not be afraid to try new approaches: maternal health is an area where there’s room for innovation.

Look at the example of Madhya Pradesh where pregnant women are offered free transport to hospital and paid 1400 Rupees (about $30) to compensate them for the work their partners lose in having to stay at home to supervise the other children. Phone numbers for the service are widely displayed, while community workers spread the message about safe deliveries and timely check-ups. These workers receive 350 Rupees (about $8 dollars) for every expectant mother that they bring to the hospital.

Innovation isn’t confined to overseas activities. Closer to home, I was excited to hear of Oxford University’s creative plan to use crowd-sourcing as a means of undertaking research into maternal health. 10,000 healthcare professionals across the developing world will be asked to complete an online survey and to identify where they see the gaps in maternal healthcare in their respective countries.

We are being equally innovative in my department. Two weeks ago I launched a fund that will allow our health professionals to share their skills with birth attendants, doctors, nurses and midwives across the developing world. We want to encourage partnerships that can pilot new techniques, such as live internet link-ups or the use of mobile phones for emergency referrals or operations.

Family planning and safe abortion

I want to turn now, Tom, to a subject that I recognise to be sensitive but which is nevertheless close to my heart. I understand the cultural difficulties implicit in any discussion about contraception and abortion; I merely lay these facts before you: every year 20 million women seek unsafe abortions and 70,000 of them, many still girls, die as a result. And 215 million women around the world who want to use modern contraception don’t have access to it.

President Obama has described a woman’s right to make a decision about how many children she wants to have, and when, as one of the most fundamental of human freedoms.

Let me say this to you today: I could not agree with him more.

Empowering women to take decisions about their own future is the right thing to do for so many, many reasons. Not least, as your President pointed out -the fact that it is a basic human right.

The UNFPA estimates that satisfying the unmet need for modern family planning would reduce unintended pregnancies by 53 million every year, the greatest reduction being in low income countries.

We recognise that these are difficult areas and will proceed carefully – while never forgetting that our ultimate goal is always to empower women in their own lives. That goal is simply non-negotiable and I promise you here and now, that Britain will be placing women at the heart of the whole of our agenda for international development. In the immediate term, we will be doing everything in our power to urge all countries to sign up to a strong set of commitments on maternal health at September’s MDG Summit.


Just as maternal health covers a whole continuum of care, so too, does gender cover a continuum of opportunity – of which a key stage is education. Focussing our efforts exclusively on women rather than on women and girls is to miss the opportunity to reverse a vicious cycle that can be the lot of girls in poor countries. The cycle starts with limited access to education but soon leads to poor employment, ill-health, early marriage and, all too frequently, to violence and exploitation.

By making sure that more girls have the chance to attend school we can replace that vicious cycle with a virtuous one that ultimately puts females at the heart of their families and their communities. Bringing in money, supporting local enterprise, making sure their own children are educated. And typically, putting an average of 90% of their earnings back into the family compared to the 30 or 40% that males contribute.

There are many reasons why education is particularly hard for girls. These can be linked to issues of comparative low status: girls will often be expected to do the household chores or to make the long journey to fetch water, instead of attending school. When I visited Pakistan earlier this month, I saw how insecurity can add to the difficulties girls face. The new work that I was able to announce while I was there will see some 300,000 girls in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa encouraged to attend school in return for a monthly allowance. There is a good story to tell in Afghanistan, too, where 3 million girls are now attending school.

Making sure that girls are able to have access to education – and are able to complete that education – will remain a key priority for the UK’s Department for International Development.

Cash-transfers as part of the solution

Cash incentives can also work for education – and for health too, as we saw with the Madhya Pradesh project – but they can also have a wider application, enabling women to meet basic household expenses and ultimately, to re-invest their savings in the family unit.

I give you the example of Nihoza Angelique from Rwanda, a country my party knows well. She has less than a quarter of a hectare of farmland on which to support her family of three. However, thanks to development support, she has now been in employment for six months, earning 1,000 Rwandan francs per day (less than $2), out of which she is saving some 400 francs (just under 70 cents) in her newly-opened savings account. With her first salary she bought school uniforms for her children. With her second and third salaries, she bought a goat. She now plans to use her savings to build a house for herself and her children.

Gender and voice

We’ve seen, ladies and gentlemen, that when women are empowered economically they are more likely to have a voice in the community and to be advocates for other women.

In Nepal, the percentage of female Members of Parliament rose from 6% to 33% in 2008, while Ghana has seen a women elected Speaker of the national Parliament for the first time in its post-independence history. In the UK – although we’ve had a woman Speaker, indeed, a female Prime Minister – only 22% of our MPs are women. In your Congress, female representation is just 17%. It’s salutary to be reminded that the developed world isn’t always the shining beacon we might wish it to be.

On the theme of governance let me say a few words about the new UN Gender Entity. This is an historic opportunity to create an efficient, powerful and well-resourced body that has the chance to make a positive impact on the lives of millions of women and girls across the world. It is vital that a competent and visible leader is appointed as soon as possible, a leader who is mandated to make progress in this crucial area.


Ladies and gentlemen, as we sit here in Washington – across the world, millions of people are suffering. Millions of people are denied the dignity and the opportunity they deserve. We can change that.

The playwright, George Bernard Shaw once said that the essence of inhumanity wasn’t hate, it was indifference. He was right: indifference kills. September’s MDG Summit represents a golden opportunity for us to demonstrate that we are not indifferent, that we will recommit to the promises that we made ten years ago to the world’s poor.

We must call on the world’s political leaders to come to the Summit ready to make and deliver ambitious pledges. We must urge them to fulfil their aid commitments and to sign up to the Secretary-General’s Action Plan on women and children’s health. We must grasp this single moment that history offers us, a moment when, together, we can make a stand. If we are prepared to do that then we truly can leave this world a better place for generations to come.

Thank you.

Andrew Mitchell – 2010 Speech on Haiti

Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP, addresses staff at the Department for International Development, London, 13 May 2010

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrew Mitchell, the then Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, in the House of Commons on 13th January 2010.

Throughout the whole country, there will be great concern for the people of Haiti at this awful time. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is least well equipped to cope with this catastrophe. As all evidence shows, the actions that are taken in the immediate aftermath of the disaster will determine how effectively the needs which result are addressed. In this case, the whole international community should ensure a swift and effective response, though clearly the US is in the key position to provide help.

Can the Secretary of State give further details about the composition of the UK assessment team that has been despatched to the region: when will it arrive, and when will we know what further support the UK Government can offer?

Can he assure the House that the whole Whitehall machinery, as well as just DFID, is firmly joined up on this point?

Can the Secretary of State provide us with any information about the number of British nationals who are currently in Haiti, their situation, and steps that are being taken to look after them?

As I have said, the United States will no doubt have the leading role in the international response. What recent conversations has the Secretary of State had with his counterparts in the US to ensure that the international response is properly coordinated?

Many members of the British public will want to do all they can to support the people of Haiti at this time: what guidance can the Secretary of State give as to how their efforts should best be directed?

Can the Secretary of State update the House on how the neighbouring Dominican Republic has been affected?

In 2007 Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the Shadow Minister for International Development, became the first senior British politician for some time to visit Haiti, and spent time with the UN forces there. We hear that the UN forces have been hit hard by the earthquake. Can the Secretary of State update the House on the latest news about the impact of the earthquake on the UN mission in Haiti, and what discussions has he had with colleagues at UN DPKO in New York about this?

Our total focus at the moment must be on saving lives and getting help to those who need it. But will the Secretary of State accept that, in due course and when the time is right, we need a full review of Britain’s emergency response process?