Congratulations on your richly deserved elevation to the cabinet. The job of International Development secretary is always a challenge for a Conservative politician, given our desire for fiscal responsibility and understandable scepticism among party members over the sanity of fixing aid spending as a proportion of national income rather than determined by need. The struggle must be especially acute for someone who was trained in accountancy.
As you have no doubt already discovered, the Department for International Development seems to see itself as closer to the charity sector that it funds so lavishly then to the rest of Whitehall, which can only look with envy at the department’s constantly-rising budgets. Even as Tory prime ministers oversaw the imposition of austerity policies in Britain, Dfid’s budget doubled in a decade to more than £14bn. Little wonder there is such public concern, since this is more than we spend on our hard-pressed police forces in England and Wales as they grapple with issues such as gang violence, knife crime and cyber-theft.