Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Moore for less

Sir: Niru Ratnam (Arts, 19 January) is wrong on a number of counts and omits much else. The sale of Henry Moore's 'Draped Seated Woman' would be most unlikely to raise the £20 million he claims; £5 million is thought to be much nearer the market value - 0.3 per cent of Tower Hamlets' annual expenditure of £1.53 billion, and scarcely likely to relieve the current financial pressure on its council.

Moreover he neglects to mention that the Museum of London has offered to house and maintain the work on its Docklands site, giving it the public profile in London, and impact on daily lives, that Moore himself so desired.

This matters today as much as it ever did. The best public art inspires communities and nurtures souls, offering hope, integrity and beauty - standing proudly amid the cares and chaos of the world around. Old Flo should be allowed to do that job again for the people of east London, if only to offer a sound moral alternative to the shoddiness of local political philistinism.

Stephen Deuchar Director of the Art Fund, London SW7

Funding corruption

Sir: Barbara Castle, who set up the Ministry of Overseas Development, and for whom I worked for many years, would turn in her grave if she knew how Andrew Mitchell had turned the ministry into an international welfare organisation shovelling out aid to corrupt and incompetent governments, to spendthrift NGOs, greedy consultants, and unaccountable, extravagant and inefficient international organisations. DFID managers have aid targets, promotion and bonuses uppermost in their minds, and DFID staff who dare to question the use of funds are sidelined.

Andrew Mitchell in his letter of 12 January claims that DFID has reduced unauditable budgetary aid (direct grants to governments) by 50 per cent, but all that it has done is to rename them sector aid or local government aid. Ethiopia now gets £330 million p. a. , most ot it going to unaccountable local governments, allowing central government to use its funds for other purposes.

His claims that British funds have educated 11 million children, that 60 million get clean water and that a child's life is 'saved every two minutes' is data which is uncollectable and comes from recipients who are happy to give DFID whatever figures they want.

In Barbara Castle's day, direct grants to governments were stopped as they undermined local effort, were not auditable, and were likely to be diverted to other ends. As we know from aid scandals in Uganda, Nepal, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Kenya and Nigeria, most of this aid has been misused. DFID has not got the staff or expertise to monitor it. …

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