Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Thursday, 25 October 2012 14:30 UK

Afghanistan debate

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MPs debated a report on the Department for International Development's work in Afghanistan, on 25 October 2012.

The debate, which was held on a backbench business motion, was opened by the chair of the committee, Lib Dem MP Sir Malcolm Bruce.

Sir Malcolm said it would be too dangerous for the government to send its own aid workers to Afghanistan's Helmand province once British troops have withdrawn from the region.

Ministers will instead have to rely on the work being carried out by charities independent of the government, he said.

Sir Malcolm said he accepted DfID's decision not to set up an office in Helmand, but to abandon the province completely would be a "total negation" of British troops' efforts to secure one of the country's most violent regions.

The committee's report said the UK should reconsider its ambition of building Afghan government institutions in favour of more traditional aid targets.

In the report, Sir Malcolm's committee also claimed Britain is failing to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to improving the lives of Afghan women.

A string of promises to boost the rights of females in the war-torn nation "have not been followed by adequate and specific action and funding", it warned.

And the MPs claimed the fate of women in Afghan society after the withdrawal of international troops would be the "acid test" of the success of aid.

International Development Minister Alan Duncan said the government welcomed the committee's report and would reply to it in due course.

He said DfiD had made a "big difference" to "a lot" of people in Afghanistan, and added: "Our commitment to this very poor country will continue for many years to come."

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