Aid money spent on anti-independence propaganda

Linda Fabiani MSP 2As reported in last weekend’s Sunday Herald (4th October), the UK Government has come under renewed pressure over its use of international development funding to ‘communicate the benefits of the union’ to the Scottish people – amidst fresh concern that the money could count towards the UK’s aid target.

In answer to a Parliamentary Question lodged by SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, Scotland’s International Development Minister Humza Yousaf made clear that the UK Government had not raised the issue of this post with the Scottish Government.

Mr Yousaf also expressed concern “if the salary for a post to communicate the benefits of the union to the Scottish public was to come from the DFID administration budget, when that international development budget itself counts towards the UK Government’s target of spending 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on Overseas Development Assistance.”

This comes as the UK Government’s International Development Secretary Justine Greening gets ready to address the Tory Conference today (Sunday) – and is facing calls to use her speech to clarify her government’s position on this use of public funds.

Commenting, Ms Fabiani said:

“That the UK Government is willing to spend thousands of pounds of public money funding a nakedly political post to promote the Union is quite incredible – but the idea that this money could be coming out of money intended for international aid is nothing less than a scandal.

“The Department for International Development’s funding is supposed to be used to help some of the poorest people in the world – and the UK Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming into meeting the international target in the first place.  That some of this funding could actually be used to pay for a position like this raises serious questions about the UK’s commitment to international development.

“International development aid should be spent as much as possible directly supporting people living in poverty, or tackling the root causes of poverty – not in spreading anti-independence propaganda.  And the fact that the Tories apparently think this is acceptable says a lot about their warped priorities when it comes to helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

“Justine Greening will be addressing Tory Conference today – she must take this opportunity to explain the UK Government’s use of these funds and confirm that this money hasn’t come from the aid budget.  Failure to do so will have people in Scotland drawing their own conclusions.”

Notes:

Sunday Herald article: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13802168.SNP_denounce__quot_scandal_q…

28 September 2015 (Holding Reply Issued 21 September 2015)
Index Heading: Strategy and External Affairs
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (Scottish National Party):

To ask the Scottish Government what discussions or correspondence it has had with the UK Government regarding Scotland’s contribution to UK international development funds that “improve the lives of people living in extreme poverty” being used to fund a post at the Department for International Development in East Kilbride to communicate the benefits of the union to the Scottish public.

S4W-27345

Humza Yousaf:

Like those in other parts of the UK, Scottish taxpayers contribute to the UK Government’s international development work, which is delivered through the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and also a number of other UK Government Departments including the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The Scottish Government’s own £9 million per annum International Development Fund budget, focussed on our seven priority countries including Malawi, comes from the Scottish Consolidated Fund.

The UK Government has not discussed, nor raised in correspondence, with the Scottish Government the use of UK international development funds to fund a post at DFID in East Kilbride to communicate the benefits of the union to the Scottish public.

The Scottish Government would be concerned if the salary for a post which to communicate the benefits of the union to the Scottish public was to come from the DFID administration budget, when that international development budget itself counts towards the UK Government’s target of spending 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on Overseas Development Assistance.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT

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