Labour evasion over international aid money to Unions

Last week following the release of a report by the International Policy Network Autonomous Mind blogged about how a significant sum of international aid money, that is supposed to be distributed to dedicated aid charities for use in poorer countries by the Department for International Development (DfID), was being channelled to the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) for use in the UK.

The matter was raised in the House of Commons yesterday by Conservative MP, Andrew Robathan, who asked DfID Minister Gareth Thomas ‘How much funding his Department has provided to the Trades Union Congress for international development purposes since 2003; and if he will make a statement,‘.  Thomas tried to bat away the question by giving one example of the use of the money, namely the TUC spreading awareness of HIV/AIDS in Ugandan workplaces.

It was a surprising answer given there are numerous charities that are far more qualified than a British trade union body in delivering HIV/AIDS education.  But Robathan came back with the real charge, that most of the money the TUC receives for international development work is ‘spent in the United Kingdom and is not accounted for in any way,‘.  Thomas’ answer deliberately avoided addressing that essential point and made a pathetic party political dig:

Like every other NGO to which we give funding, the TUC has to spend the money in accordance with the requirements of the International Development Act 2002, which, as I recall, had the support of all parties. I gently encourage the hon. Gentleman to look at the work of the TUC in supporting local trade unions in Iraq and Zimbabwe, for example. Although I recognise that he relishes the role of an unreconstructed member of the Conservative party, he might want to be careful about associating himself with a position that is more extreme than any taken by the last three Conservative Foreign Secretaries. Indeed, the last Conservative Government, from 1989 to 1997, paid the TUC to do work on international development.

If there was no truth in the charge Gareth Thomas would have denied it vehemently and with no small amount of indignation.  The fact he did not demonstrates that taxpayers’ money allocated to international development work carried out by charities in the developing world, is being siphoned off to sweeten Labour’s paymasters and fund political education and training in the UK, as the International Policy Network has claimed.

This is a disgraceful and unacceptable abuse of public money for party political interests.  This kind of casual corruption has to be rooted out and those responsible held to account.  I wonder how long it will take before an MP tries to defend this misuse of international development money, our money, by claiming such use was within the rules?  And politicians wonder why they are held in such low regard by the public.

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2 Responses to “Labour evasion over international aid money to Unions”


  1. 1 Bishop Hill 21/01/2010 at 10:18 pm

    DCSF also channels large sums to the TUC.


  1. 1 Tories continue Labour’s obsession with gimmicks « Autonomous Mind Trackback on 09/07/2010 at 4:03 pm
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