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LIDC student members met with Stephen Twigg of the Parliamentary International Development Committee- what was discussed?

Inequality, Brexit, and aid effectiveness. These were some of the topics of the day when five postgraduate students from the Bloomsbury Colleges met with Labour MP and Chair of the International Development Committee (IDC), Stephen Twigg.

On 26 October, five LIDC student members from Birkbeck, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Institute of Education posed questions to the MP in response to the IDC's report on the UK's domestic implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The role of the IDC is to monitor the policy, administration and spending of the Department for International Development (DFID) and its associated public bodies. The committee also takes an interest in the policies and procedures of the multilateral agencies and non-government organisations to which DFID contributes.

The IDC's report on the UK's domestic implementation of the SDGs was published on 8 June 2016 and highlighted the insufficiency of the government's current response. Students from the panel queried both this finding as well as its reception by government, particularly following the result of EU referendum. Many questions focused on the impact of Brexit on domestic SDG implementation, and how this will affect the committee's' proposal to devolve implementation to pre-existing departments and committees, such as the Liaison Committee and Department for Business, Skills and Innovation. Stephen Twigg stated that the IDC was working closely with various committees on this proposal, particularly the Environmental Audit committee and the Office of National Statistics, and highlighted the approach that Germany has taken in their devolution of implementation to local government.

The student panel also raised questions around the recent appointment of Priti Patel as the Secretary of State for International Development and her publically stated focus on trade, aid effectiveness and value for money. Twigg highlighted the IDC's ongoing relationship with thethe Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) and their previous and forthcoming reports on DFID spending. The core business of the IDC is to ensure accountability and effectiveness and Twigg expressed strong support for the ICAI as well as the importance of understanding key learnings in terms of monitoring outcomes, such as changes in structural inequality, that are difficult to measure, assessing community value, and promoting shared learnings amongst local government agencies both at home and abroad given the increase in rapid urbanisation in middle income countries.

In rounding out the meeting, Twigg thanked the students and the LIDC for their questions and welcomed further discussions with academia. The IDC seeks a wide range of opinions and evidence for their inquiries from their constituents, the private sector, and academia in order to inform policy, and Twigg thanked the students on behalf of the IDC for sharing their views.

This article was written by Regan Leahy, MSc student at Birkbeck, Assistant Citizenship Manager at Hogan Lovells, and member of the panel who met Stephen Twigg