Christian Aid welcomes progressive Brown cabinet appointments

By staff writers
June 29, 2007

The UK-based churches' international development agency Christian Aid today warmly welcomed new Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s new ministerial appointments, saying that the changes were a good sign of his commitment to the world’s poor.

In particular, the agency - which works with the word's poor irrespective of creed - praised the appointment of Douglas Alexander to the Department of International Development (DfID)and of Hilary Benn to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Sally Golding , Christian Aid’s chief political advisor, said: "We are delighted that Gordon Brown has increased the number of ministers at the Department for International Development (DFID), given it shared responsibility for trade policy and chosen Douglas Alexander as its secretary of state. This is a clear sign that the prime minister is continuing to take the eradication of global poverty seriously."

She went on: "Douglas Alexander is an intelligent and capable politician and one of Brown’s closest allies, and promises to be a major figure in the new administration. At Christian Aid we hope to develop a frank, constructive and close relationship with him. Key challenges for him will be ensuring that the UK stops trade deals that hurt the poor and dealing with climate change which threatens to make global poverty permanent."

Mr Alexander's predecessor Hilary Benn has been appointed to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (DEFRA)

"We very much hope we will be able to continue that relationship that we forged with Hilary Benn at DFID now he has moved to DEFRA," said Ms Golding.

She added: "He will need to bring his talents to bear in ensuring that a strong and effective climate change bill is passed and to make sure the UK cuts its fair share of carbon emissions. Developing countries have contributed least to the problem but suffer first and worst from the effects of climate change, so his experience of working with poor countries will be indispensable in striking a global deal on climate change that cuts emissions but is also fair and equitable."

On the news of David Miliband’s appointment as Foreign Secretary, Sally Golding said: "Given his work in introducing the climate change bill, we are sure he will build on Margaret Beckett's work to gear up the international community to face the huge challenge of climate change."

"We also hope he will take forward a truly multilateral foreign policy that urgently addresses the worsening humanitarian crises in Darfur and the Occupied Palestinian Territories", Golding added.

"The introduction of a new cabinet post for Africa, Asia and the UN is another positive shift", said Christian Aid. "Bringing in someone of former UN deputy secretary-general Mark Malloch-Brown’s calibre to the post bodes particularly well. We hope he will give the concerns of developing countries a strong voice in the government’s discussions."

Of Alistair Darling’s appointment as Chancellor, Ms Golding said the Mr Darling should work to increase aid and debt relief, and ensure poor countries are properly represented at the IMF and World Bank.

"He must also put the UK’s own house in order by taking urgent action to ensure the UK cracks down on corruption and ensures money stolen from poor countries can be traced and repatriated by introducing transparency to the tax havens under its jurisdiction," she declared.

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