There's always a lot of debate about international development, and rightly so.
Today, I will make a simple argument about why we should care about development.
But equally importantly one about how we should go about it, and the approach I am going to take as Secretary of State.
I want to answer those who say that we can't afford to deliver on the development budget or that it's a waste of money.
And show that as Conservatives, our commitment to help some of the poorest in the world is something that we can be proud of.
Why? Because it's not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do.
And how? By continuing the drive for value for money, transparency and results started by my predecessor.
And by bringing in new financial controls.
And by improving the way we work, whether it's by using new technology, research, and transparency to improve our programmes.
Right thing to do
So let's look at the first argument about why we give humanitarian aid and development assistance.
The British public are generous and caring by nature.
According to the Charities Aid Foundation, in 2010 we gave £11 billion to charitable causes. Second only to the US.
And last year, when the Horn of Africa region was struck by drought, with Somalia suffering the first famine of the 21st century, Britain stepped up to help.
The public gave an enormous £79 million through TV appeals, including one we ran as our own party political broadcast.
The British people do believe in helping those in need.
And this Government shares those values.
I want Britain and our development budget to be a real force for good in the world.
So it's right that next year, for the first time ever, it will be a Conservative led government that meets the target for 0.7 per cent of National Income to be spent on development.
I have just come back from a visit to Kenya and Somalia, and seen firsthand what a difference our programmes are making on the ground.
What struck me most was the wasted potential.
It is impossible not to wonder what the children I saw in Kenya might grow up to achieve, if only they had better opportunities. How many of these children might have become the next Steve Jobs, or the next Tim Berners Lee, if they hadn't lost out in the lottery of life.
And perhaps development matters most to women.
It is women who die in childbirth because they don't have the medical care they need.
It is women who bear the brunt of stagnant economies, losing out on work opportunities first.
And it is women who struggle for an equal voice and participation in too many societies and governments. Let's face it, where would Britain have been without Margaret Thatcher.
So we will do our part. I will do my part.
Last year, DFID helped to feed three and a half million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
And provided health services, vaccinations and clean water for hundreds of thousands more.
This money is making a difference.
The reality is that it's next to impossible to escape from poverty if you're suffering from illness and disease.
Through simple interventions, like vaccinations for children to stop them catching preventable diseases, we can make a huge difference to people's life chances.
Not just now, but for the long term.
But that's just one of my arguments.
Smart thing to do
That having a government that is focussed on international development isn't just the right thing to do, but also the smart thing.
It is in all our interests for countries around the world to be stable and secure, to have educated and healthy populations, and to have growing economies.
As countries develop, they become bigger markets.
Look at China and India - we exported nearly £15 billion to them last year.
If you talk to Jaguar Landrover, whose fastest growing export market is China, they'll tell you how important this is because it creates jobs and investment here in the UK.
Many countries where we work have the same potential to be the growth markets of tomorrow.
And I believe we can work with them to get there faster.
Next year we will join Kenya in celebrating 50 years of independence.
This is a country with strong ties to Britain. Our trade was worth £1 billion last year. But it could be so much higher as that country develops.
And it is our links, including our support for their faster development, that has kept that relationship strong.
So let's be clear, I will never forget that the name of my Department is International Development.
The Prime Minister has spoken about the Golden Thread of development - the building blocks that help societies, economies, and countries develop.
Building blocks like the absence of conflict, good governance, property rights and the rule of law, and access to markets.
If we can work together to get them right, it will mean that countries can rise out of poverty permanently and end their dependence on aid.
This is not only good for the people of the countries concerned, it's good for us in Britain.
It matters for our security too.
It's in everyone's interests for the dire situation in Syria to be resolved.
And as you heard from William Hague on Sunday, I am working closely with the Foreign Secretary to make sure Britain plays its part, in providing urgent humanitarian assistance.
Trauma counselling for children and their families.
And, as winter in Syria approaches, help to provide food, shelter, and medical support to thousands affected by the violence.
We should also never underestimate how much the work of DFID also contributes significantly to Britain's diplomatic clout alongside the foreign office.
From the country's perspective, they'll be dealing not with two departments, but with one government.
So our approach to international development is the right thing to do and I believe it's also the smart thing to do.
But equally important is how we go about it.
The quality matters just as much as the quantity.
So I want to build on the work done by my predecessor, Andrew Mitchell.
He changed the way DFID approaches development, reviewing every country's aid programme, as well as multilateral bodies like the UN, to target what offers best value.
He refocused DFID's direct funding on 28 countries, down from 43. Including ending our aid programmes to China and Russia.
And stopped funding to multilateral bodies that didn't deliver good value for money.
But I believe we need to not only carry on this work, but also speed up its pace.
We should focus our efforts on helping countries that are less able to help themselves, and on countries where our work can really speed up economic development.
And we should also recognise that as countries get richer, we need to be responsible about how we transition in our relationship with them from aid to trade.
Those are the discussions that I am having with the Indian Government at the moment.
Over the last twenty years, of the 54 countries that were classed as 'low income', 18 have from now graduated to 'middle income' status.
I expect this challenge of moving from aid to trade will grow as more countries develop.
As that development shift happens, it is completely right for us to keep targeting where we invest our money across countries to have the biggest impact.
Of course, I want to be clear that whether we give a pound directly, or through another organisation, I always expect value for money on behalf of the taxpayer.
I want to bring that same focus on value for money in the UK to the EU in Brussels.
This won't happen overnight, but I want to work with like-minded countries across Europe to make sure that the EU delivers aid in way that better matches our priorities.
I don't think it's right that the EU still gives money to those countries higher up the income scale, when we've taken the decision to target the poorest.
That's why next week I'm meeting with the European Commission and Development Ministers to discuss the EU's aid programmes and start winning the argument for better value.
And I am determined to make sure the DFID budget is spent wisely, which is why I am introducing new financial controls.
We need to make sure that we can use every pound we spend to make the most difference on the ground.
In my first week, I reduced the level at which programme spending decisions would need my approval down from £40 million to £5 million.
And one of my first acts in office was to commission work on the use of consultants.
And I will go further, bringing in a package of changes in DFID to give ministers far greater oversight and control of spending decisions. Working with my department to get the most out of the development budget we have.
Finally, I'd just like to mention some key areas where we can also have a huge impact.
First, I want to make sure that we invest in what works.
Where we don't know, I want to find out.
It will make sure we are clearer about where we should focus our resources so we know what we're will actually work as we intend..
There's a huge amount of high quality research done into development. And I will be making the most of it to allow us to be even more targeted with our investment.
Building on experience of what actually works on the ground, and critically what local priorities really are.
For example for men, sanitation only ranked 7th on a list of priorities, whereas for women it was number two, after worries about getting a job.
It's another reason why women will always need to be at the heart of this agenda.
It's not about delivering aid to half a country. We can't get priorities right unless we get them right for everyone.
I want to champion research and evidence to make sure that we are learning all we can, and we know that our approach is actually going to work.
Second, I want to focus on transparency.
DFID is actually top out of 72 aid organisations around the world for transparency, including NGOs, government aid agencies, and private foundations.
But we can do more.
And we need to encourage the governments, NGOs and companies in the countries where we work to also be more transparent.
This is the best way to fight corruption and monitor progress.
Look at what happened in Ugandan schools.
When people in local communities were able to read in their newspaper how much money their school was actually supposed to be getting from the central government each month, the amount the schools actually received shot up from just 20 per cent to over 80 per cent of the promised amount.
When those in the middle knew they would be exposed if the money went missing, the level waste and corruption was slashed overnight.
The simple lesson here is that by giving ordinary people access to information, they can and will hold those in power to account.
This brings me on to my final area of focus, which is technology.
The proliferation of mobile phones across the developing world is perhaps the most exciting trend in development today.
Again looking at Kenya, technology is already having a huge impact on financial inclusion, with nearly a quarter of Kenyan GDP now flowing through mobile banking.
The M-Pesa project sees 15 million Kenyans transacting through their mobile, which means it's easier to trade and grow a business.
And there are fantastic organisations like BudgIt in Nigeria, which are putting government budget information online for citizens to scrutinise.
So I want to make sure that DFID is at the heart of this technology debate, and doing all it can to pioneer innovation and the use of technology to improve development.
That is why I believe in development.
Yes, I'm going to take a new approach to ensure that every pound we spend has the biggest possible impact possible.
And yes, that will mean stopping some programmes, where I don't think they are working. And putting the money elsewhere.
But ultimately this budget is about investment and growth.
Developing people, developing countries, and developing partnerships.
It is the right thing to do, and the smart thing to do.
Not just more lives saved, or more children in school.
It will ultimately mean more countries we can trade with, more jobs, and a safer world for us all and our children.