UK must improve governance of international aid - Lord Darzi

Britain must continue to "improve the governance" of its international aid and ensure it is being used for the purpose it was granted, a Labour peer has said.

Lord Darzi said Britain's role in global development was "critical" and that in recent years it had become much more strategic.

He was speaking at the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, which seeks to empower people to offer life and hope to those in urgent need of basic humanitarian aid anywhere in the world.

He told the Press Association: "I absolutely salute Britain and the government in terms of absolutely clearly having protected development funding.

"Because Britain's role in development in the lower and middle income countries is absolutely critical."

The former Labour health minister said that to help overcome all the crises around the world, education, health, infrastructure and building government were necessary.

He added: "I think the UK is a world leader in that, I am very proud to be a British citizen talking about it."

Referring to the way aid granted by the UK is used, Lord Darzi said: "In terms of spending, obviously we always have to learn: how do you improve the governance, how do you ensure that the money is going for the right things at the right time in the right place?

"But I think we are better even than we were three or four years ago. We've been much more strategic I am very proud that the UK makes this contribution to the world."

His comments come days after MPs said aid from the UK to China did not appear to have been spent on projects to alleviate poverty.

Projects funded by UK cash include a scheme to boost the Chinese film industry and improve the Asian superpower's museums.

Aid to Rwanda came under the spotlight last month when Clare Akamanzi, chief executive of the Rwanda Development Board, was forced to defend the country's decision to enter into a sponsorship deal with Arsenal while it receives tens of millions of pounds in aid from Britain.

She said the deal with the London side would boost tourism in the central African state and help it reduce its reliance on outside help.

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