Imran asked the Secretary of State about the FCO/DFID merger, as well as diplomacy and development working together:
Imran Ahmad Khan MP: The merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development is a welcome acceptance that the UK’s outward-facing Departments should merge to best employ all the tools at our disposal. I detect, however, a concerning trend in the new FCDO for diplomacy and development to be regarded as separate and equal. Assimilating DFID’s obtuse culture into King Charles Street is dangerous and will cripple the Foreign Office’s ability to achieve its objectives. We must, above all, regard development as a foreign policy tool. Can the Foreign Secretary assure the House that the current reform programme at the Foreign Office ensures that our development programme supports our diplomatic activities, rather than transcends and undermines them?
The Foreign Secretary: I reassure my hon. Friend that the raison d’être of the merger is to bring together our aid clout and heft with our diplomatic reach and muscle. If he looks at the visit I made to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, he will see the support we provided for the Palestinians in dealing with covid alongside our diplomatic support for a two-state solution; if he looks at the situation in Yemen, he will see that we are doing the same; and he will see the same in our response to the explosion in the port of Beirut. I think he will find that we are practising what we preach, which brings together the aid—taxpayers’ money—with our diplomatic muscle to make a real difference on the ground.