Priti Patel spoke about plans to overhaul the UK's foreign aid programme on Sunday (2 October) as she batted away criticism made by NGOs. Arguing that foreign aid provided by the UK was not always well spent, she said it was necessary to "challenge" this.
Delivering aid to the world's poorest was "absolutely the right thing to do", Patel told Dermot Murnaghan on his Sky News programme, Murnaghan, but she wanted to "see results" for the investment made.
Patel's comments follow a pronouncement in a column for the Daily Mail, which has campaigned to "end the foreign aid madness", two weeks ago. In the article, Patel highlighted her vision for an overhaul of the aid system based on "core Conservative principles".
Patel argued that work and trade were the answers to eradication of poverty and that "the way to end poverty is wealth creation, not aid dependency", and "wealth is created by people, not the state".
She added: "I don't see my new job as just about aid. I want to help build the UK's trading partners of tomorrow."
However, Patel's vision has attracted criticism from NGOs, who argued that the approach was too business-focused, and not appropriate. Loretta Minghella of Christian Aid said: "The first priority of UK aid must be to end poverty...not to oil the wheels of British business."
Patel told Murnaghan taxpayers wanted "accountability in how money is spent" on foreign aid. She added: "It's right that we serve out taxpayers in the right way."
Patel, who assumed the role of International Development Secretary in Theresa May's first cabinet as prime minster, said of her new role: "I will be delivering a much more focused and targeted approach," adding, "We owe it to the world's poorest."
Asked about Theresa May's announcement that the UK Government will begin the process of repealing the 1972 European Communities Act when Parliament reconvenes after party conferences conclude, Patel welcomed the decision.
"We are going to give parliament its sovereignty back," she said.
"We have to deliver on the verdict of the British public – the referendum result was unanimous – it was very clear," she continued: "We will be delivering the will of the British public."