William Hague warns against using Oxfam scandal to 'undermine support for aid spending'

Posted On: 
13th February 2018

Former foreign secretary William Hague has warned that the Oxfam abuse scandal must not be used to attack the Government's commitment to international aid. 

William Hague

The charity is under scrutiny after a series of allegations about its staff using prostitutes in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. 

Lord Hague said that while such behaviour was "utterly unacceptable" it should not be used to attack the overall case for development spending. 

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Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he argued that a "population explosion" in Africa and the Middle East made aid spending all the more urgent.

"The revelations about serious sexual misconduct by Oxfam officials in Haiti, now being followed by allegations concerning other aid charities, threaten to undermine public and political support for humanitarian efforts of vast importance," he writes.

"Yet a reduction in aid would be a strategic blunder, ultimately damaging our own national interest and our ability to deal with one of the biggest problems heading our way...

"If we don’t think ahead, this will be a century of rising nationalism and ethnic tensions across Europe in response to potentially the greatest migration humanity has ever known. That would severely affect us in Britain even after we have left the EU.

"Effective development aid is not the whole answer to this coming crisis but it is definitely a crucial part of it. The near-universal truth is that where standards of healthcare, vaccination, and nutrition are improved, people have fewer children. Good education and a strong role for women in work and society can have a similar effect. These are all objectives of our overseas aid."

MORDAUNT'S ACTION PLAN

Elsewhere International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has set out a plan of action to improve safeguarding among charities in receipt of government money. 

She has written to charities demanding they provide her "assurance" that they have the proper systems in place and that they have notified the department of any concerns they have about specific safeguarding cases.

Ms Mordaunt has also set up a new unit to review safeguarding issues across the whole aid sector, including the UN and multilateral organisations.

Oxfam's chair of trustee, Caroline Thomson, said the charity would endeavour to regain the Government's trust.

"Oxfam is in total agreement with the Secretary of State's further proposals. We recognise that we have some way to go to persuade her that we have the right moral leadership to be fully entrusted with public money.

"But we are committed to working with her, DFID and the Charity Commission to prove we can meet her expectations."