Thursday, December 1, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Lords looks at plight of Dalits in international development aid debate

Lords looks at plight of Dalits in international development aid debate
01 December 2011

Members of the Lords, including a former Director of Oxfam and a
founding member of the Development Studies Institute at the London
School of Economics, will debate the Government's international
development policy this afternoon (Thursday 1 December).

Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations
UK and editor of the Sikh Messenger, will make his maiden speech.

Watch live coverage of the debate on Parliament TV (from
approximately 1.30pm)
Read a transcript of the debate from Today in the Lords (available
approximately three hours after the debate begins)
Lords Library note: International Development Policy and the
Situation of Dalits

Lord Sandwich (Crossbench), who tabled the debate and will speak first, said:

"I have been involved with aid agencies, including Christian Aid and
Save the Children, for many years and I have followed different
Government's attempts to ensure that the financial aid they provide
reaches the world's poorest and neediest people.

"Two of the main problems are, firstly, trying to identify who the
poorest are, and secondly how we can provide effective, timely and
relevant aid for them, particularly in countries which have suffered
from great conflict like Sudan and Kosovo, both of which I visited
this year.

"There is also now a great need to focus on the Dalits – or
Untouchables – in India, who truly are the poorest of the poor and are
very often victims of human rights abuses. Added to all of this is my
great concern that other Government departments might 'poach' some of
DFID's international aid budget to use for their own aid projects.
Whilst I am impressed by the Government's efforts to achieve greater
accountability, I wonder whether they will have the energy and
resources to follow up every project. I hope that this debate will
both draw attention to these issues and encourage the Government to
think carefully about their proposals to focus on the poorest of

A House of Lords Library note examines the Government's international
development policy for India, currently the largest recipient of UK
development aid, and provides an overview of the situation of Dalits
in South Asia and the issue of caste-based discrimination in India.
Members taking part in the debate

Members of the Lords scheduled to speak include:

Lord Singh of Wimbledon (Crossbench), Director of the Network of
Sikh Organisations UK
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead (Labour), Opposition Spokesperson for
International Development
Lord Judd (Labour), member of the Joint Committee for Human
Rights, former Director of Oxfam and former Minister for Overseas
Lord Avebury (Liberal Democrat), former party Spokesperson for
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with special responsibility for
Lord Desai (Labour), founding member of the Development Studies
Institute (DESTIN) at the LSE
Lord Harries of Pentregarth (Crossbench), who has an interest in
overseas aid and development, and the Dalits in particular
Lord Roberts of Llandudno (Liberal Democrat), former party
spokesperson for International Development

Viscount Craigavon (Crossbench) and the Bishop of Rippon and Leeds are
also expected to take part in the debate.

Baroness Northover (Liberal Democrat) will respond on behalf of the government.

Government Whips Office: Speakers list [external website]

Further information

Members of the public can attend House of Lords debates and follow
proceedings from the public gallery.


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