No plans yet for a British development bank. That was the response from Justine Greening, International Development Secretary, to the International Development Select Committee last week. It's a welcome answer and one that will reassure many of us in the development community who have been questioning the rationale for the UK getting into the bank business.
Syria's brutal conflict has killed over 100,000 people, driven seven million from their homes and created the worst refugee crisis for a generation. I intend to welcome the Prime Minister's recent vow to lead the world in aid for the Syrian people, and to ask the Secretary of State to ensure that no stone is left unturned in diplomatic efforts to improve humanitarian access and bring about peace talks.
On 23 September, the UK Government announced its contribution to the Global Fund and we got a step closer to the day when no child dies from Aids, TB or malaria. The UK has pledged £1billion over the next three years - providing the overall target of $15billion is met from other governments and donors.
Imagine you woke up tomorrow and heard on the news that a prominent woman MP here in Britain had been kidnapped along with her two daughters. It would be utterly shocking. Now imagine it's a few weeks later and you hear that another female parliamentarian, a member of the House of Lords for example, has narrowly escaped an attack in which her daughter was killed. But this is exactly what's happened in Afghanistan this summer.
As the leaders of the world's twenty most powerful nations are flocking to St Petersburg, the UK's international development secretary, Justine Greening, made a valiant effort to reduce the toxic political fallout of her prime minister's fiasco over British policy vis-à-vis Syria this week - and perhaps also to save her own skin after failing to vote for the government's motion.
Downing Street has confirmed that Conservative MP, Jesse Norman, will leave its policy board after abstaining in last week's vote on Syria. The decision to fire the influential Tory is being attributed to the necessity of retaining party discipline and highlighting the fact that three-line whips are to be treated with the utmost respect. However, this sudden dismissal begs many questions...
There is a palpable fear across Lebanon. The country has seen war and knows what it looks like. Sectarian violence has increased in recent months, and as refugees keep arriving the expectation is that the number could double by Christmas. Lebanon's future is now intimately tied with Syria's, and a solution to the conflict in Syria must be found for the entire region.
By failing to include legislation to enshrine the 0.7% aid commitment in law in today's Queens speech this Tory-led Government has once again broken a Coalition Agreement promise. Both the Tories and Lib Dems have failed to honour a promise which was in their respective 2010 election manifestos.
Like Justine Greening, I can't understand the arguments made by some against spending 0.7% of GNI to relieve suffering overseas. They should remember that 7p in every £10 is a small slice of our national income when compared with the spectre of people dying unnecessarily, living without access to education or even clean water.
This week has seen a row over whether the UK should continue to fund aid to South Africa. By pure coincidence, I am in Johannesburg at the moment. Aid...
It's hard for us to imagine life without the humble loo. It's a basic necessity; a UN-recognised human right. However, for an overwhelming two thirds of the population in South Asia, a loo is a luxury that's out of reach.
In a speech on 18 March to the London Stock Exchange, international development secretary Justine Greening said the UK wants to make it easier for British businesses to get a slice of the aid budget. This sends a worrying signal that the government is putting the interests of the private sector ahead of the interests of the poor.
Following the demise of the Big Society and the 'green blue' Tories, aid was the last bastion of David Cameron's claim to have detoxified the Tory brand. However, by abandoning the moral case for aid and seeking to mislead people about its future use, Cameron is revealing how weak he has become.
Friday is International Women's Day. And it is an opportunity for us to celebrate women in all walks of life. It is a chance to look at where we are now, how far we have come, and what needs still to be done. It is also a time to reflect on the work which is improving the lives of women across the world. It is also an opportunity for us to reflect on the vital role women are playing in our own society, be it in business, education, entertainment, public service or in the home.
The coalition government has provided nearly £40 million of ring-fenced funding for specialist domestic and sexual violence services, and national helplines. We've invested in changing attitudes and behaviours. You may have seen the UK television adverts we've launched to tackle rape and relationship abuse amongst teenagers. We've reformed our legislation, introducing two new stalking offences to better protect victims and better support the police and prosecutors who bring about justice. But we can and must do more.
This week Comic Relief celebrated its 25th anniversary and as we look back over the years, there is a lot to be proud of. For the past quarter of a century, Comic Relief has inspired people up and down the country to play a part in changing the lives of millions of people across Africa for the better.