I had pledged to support the amendment which was seeking to help ensure that we continue to spend 0.7% of our Gross National Income on international and overseas development aid. Unfortunately, the Speaker didn’t select the amendment so we weren’t able to vote on it.
However, the Speaker did allow a special debate to take place on the issue on 8th June and I spoke in that debate and you can see my contribution here I also held a meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this issue on 9th June. Rishi Sunak is in favour of aid and is determined to return us to contributing 0.7% of our national income. I am pressing for that to be sooner rather than later.
Supporting properly targeted and transparent aid was one of the reasons I wanted to enter Parliament in the first place. Our aid programmes provide improved access to education, health services, clean water and food to many of the world’s poorest people. I have personally visited some of the aid projects we fund in Africa and believe it to be important that we continue to support these programmes.
Of course, along with many other countries, our economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, so the actual amount we would have spent overseas would reduce anyway, as it’s based on a percentage. However, I do not believe that there is a need for a double cut, because this would not help people in this country and would have a devastating effect on some people in other countries.
We will, of course still be contributing a large amount of money to overseas aid, but I believe that the 0.7% target is important because it acts as encouragement to other countries to provide help at a similar level as well, which is vital because we cannot do everything on our own.
I am, therefore, determined to do as much as I can to help on this issue and am grateful to you for letting me have your views.