Government won’t be willing to let us know how effective aid spending is...

The House of Lords economic affairs committee is urging the government to abandon its development aid target today and instead focus on stamping out corruption and getting value for money from funding it does provide.

It concluded in a report that the target of spending 0.7pc of national income on aid from next year is arbitrary and could prove counterproductive and suggested dropping plans to make it legally binding.

'We believe that development aid should be judged by the criteria of effectiveness and value for money, not by whether a specific arbitrary spending target is reached,' said committee chairman Lord MacGregor.

But determining effectiveness openly will be tougher than the committee thinks. I submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department for International Development recently requesting statistics on how much aid paid by the UK to each country is thought to be lost due to corruption within recipient nations.

I also asked for any documents DFID produced analysing the level of corruption in recipient countries and how it affected aid.

The request was knocked back and I ended up complaining to the Information Commissioner's Office, but they backed DFID's decision not to release data – consisting of risk assessments done on each recipient nation – on the grounds that publication would harm international relations.

The UK gave 0.56% of its income in aid in 2010, proportionately more than France, Germany and the US. Just how much of that gets to the people that need it we may never know it seems.