Letter of comfort sent to former First Minister: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

You asked for a copy of a ‘letter of comfort’ signed by the then Secretary of State for International Development to the then First Minister of Scotland in 2004.


In response to your request, attached is a copy of the letter you requested in the format you asked for (electronic). Please note the letter was sent in 2005, not 2004 as detailed in your request.

The letter, dated 23 May 2005, from the Secretary of State for International Development (UK Government) to the Scottish Government (formerly Scottish Executive), confirms the UK Government’s agreement (in respect of the Scotland Act) to the Scottish Government establishing an international development footprint.

As indicated in the letter, the two Governments agreed to work together on international development, with the Scottish Government being recognised as assisting the UK Government in doing so. The two Governments have continued to work together on international development since then, conducting both ministerial and official level meetings in relation to international development work as it has evolved.

Please see the following examples of previous and ongoing areas of discussion and cooperation, which show the consistent and ongoing approach of the Scottish Minsters in assisting UK Government Ministers, with their agreement, on international development matters:

Scottish Government programme development
As part of a consultation undertaken by the Scottish Government which led to its 2016 International Development Strategy, a consultative meeting was held with the then Department for International Development (DFID). In light of Covid-19 and as a part of the wider review process, the UK Government was again formally invited to discuss that review in the most recent review by the Scottish Government of its approach to international development.

UK Government/Scottish Government cooperation on Safeguarding in international development
The Scottish Government has worked collaboratively with UKG on safeguarding issues in the international development sector, including agreeing to the request from DFID to the Scottish Government as a recognised donor sign up to their scheme of Donor Commitments to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment in the international aid sector.

UK Government inclusion of Scottish Government international development spend as part of overall UK ODA
Scottish Government Official Development Assistance (ODA) spend is included by the UK Government within its overall ODA return to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is counted by the UK towards its commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on ODA (this commitment will reduce to spend 0.5% of GNI in 2021-22).

The UKG publishes the overall UK Statistics on International Development Spend each year, clearly showing a separate budget line for its inclusion of Scottish Government spend within that ODA return. For example, in recent DFID - Statistics on International Development – Final UK Aid Spend 2019, published September 2020, the Scottish Government is identified by the UK Government as a donor and contributor to overall UK ODA (see page 10).

For your information, please see below the already published Scottish Government Contribution to International Development Reports for 2017-18 and 2018-19:
First Scottish Government Contribution to International Development Report (published September 2018).

Second Scottish Government Contribution to International Development Report (published September 2019).

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

FOI202100229979 - Information released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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