International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill

– in the House of Commons at 11:00 am on 12 September 2014.

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Proceedings resumed.

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield 11:38, 12 September 2014

I am a co-sponsor of the Bill introduced by my right hon. Friend Michael Moore. With the exception of one very minor tweak, it encapsulates the wishes of all three major political parties in the commitments we made at the last election.

At this very dangerous time in international affairs, I want to start by expressing heartfelt gratitude for the bravery and selflessness of those who work in the humanitarian and development world, increasingly placing themselves in personal danger and jeopardy to help those less fortunate than themselves. In this House we often pay tribute to the extraordinary bravery of our armed forces, and rightly so, but I wish today to salute this vital and selfless work, and the bravery and commitment that is being shown by British members of the humanitarian and development community around the world in some desperate and difficult places. Over the past few years, large numbers of them have been harmed, kidnapped, brutalised and killed as they seek to help those caught up in conflict, violence, deep insecurity and poverty. They are heroes of our time.

Over some seven and a half years in government and in opposition, as the shadow Development Secretary and then Development Secretary, I have had the privilege of working with some of Britain’s leading non-governmental organisations. They are world leaders, and this House should never forget the brilliant work that they are doing, day in and day out, in very insecure places.

The commitment to 0.7% is an all-party commitment. I remind my Conservative colleagues that page 117 of our 2010 manifesto said:

“We will legislate in the first session of a new Parliament to lock in this level of spending for every year from 2013.”

We all understand the reasons why that was not possible in the first Session, but we have a chance to do it now.

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield

I will in a moment, but I want to make some progress first.

On page 116 of the manifesto there is a very fetching picture of my hon. Friend Robert Halfon teaching in Rwanda on Project Umubano. I was teaching in the classroom next door and my hon. Friend Pauline Latham, my right hon. Friend Mr Maude and my hon. Friend Jeremy Lefroy were also teaching. The Minister of State, Department for International Development, my right hon. Friend Mr Swayne, was not far away in Butare at the time.

The former Prime Minister, Mr Brown, made a powerful speech today. He talked about David in the genocide memorial in Kigali, which has been visited by hundreds of Conservatives on Project Umubano who were as moved as the right hon. Gentleman was to see it. That is part of the way in which the commitment to international development has grown across the House, which is very welcome indeed.

I do not like declaratory legislation and fully understand why many Members believe that it is insulting and that it diminishes the House of Commons, because it implies that we cannot be trusted to do what we say we will do and that we therefore have to satisfy the public by enshrining it in law. Of course, former Prime Minister Tony Blair passed declaratory legislation to abolish child poverty, but child poverty then immediately went up. I therefore understand why declaratory legislation is frowned upon in this House, but this is different: we have reached 0.7%. As the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said, we have ascended the mountain and reached the top. We should all be incredibly proud, particularly on the Conservative Benches, that it was a Conservative-led Government who introduced and honoured this commitment to the poorest in the world at an extremely difficult time in our own economic affairs.

The great and important point about the 0.7% is that it gives certainty to budgetary methods and budgets in the Department for International Development. That matters a lot: it means we can plan for the long term, for reasons I will come on to. It also reflects the state of the economy, because it is predicated on the gross national income, and it gives certainty to planning.

A report on international development by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee—a most senior Committee in Parliament—praised almost everything this Government are doing, but complained about the 0.7% because it is an input. It is right that we should be obsessed with outputs—the results and what this money is achieving. Nevertheless, this particular input is the exception, because it enables us to plan future international development spend with certainty.


Mr Mitchell,
'Great' Britain is part of the OECD group of countries, the richest in the world. David Cameron himself has declared, 'We are a wealthy nation". So I've no doubt that the UK can well afford to give 0.7% of its national income to overseas aid.
In it's determination to send aid overseas, the "proud" British Parliament has once again forgotten the tiny 4% of it own state pensioners, that are being forced into poverty by the UK's Pension Bill, by the freezing of their paid for UK state pension.
Andrew, that 4% are also overseas, and they too are in need of aid.
This Bill is designed to give the British Pound to overseas citizens in need. Clause 20 of the Pension Bill is designed to remove the British Pound from the pockets and purses of 4% of UK pensioners retired overseas - from a pension they've fully paid for!
Bearing in mind that Parliament is 'proud' to donate 0.7% for overseas aid, how can it be right and proper, and proud, to deny just 4% of British pensioners the uprated pension they deserve, and the one they've paid for?

Submitted by Jeff Chipps

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

I feel it is important at this moment to put on the record the work of my right hon. Friend. The growth in consensus across the House, particularly on the Conservative Benches, is undoubtedly a result of the work he did in opposition with respect to Project Umubano and the work he did as Secretary of State.

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield

My right hon. Friend is extremely generous.

In return for this extraordinarily favourable arrangement for British development policy, we have to honour the electorate by ensuring that we demonstrate that we really do secure the results that we promise—that for every pound of their hard-earned money, we really do secure 100p of development on the ground. That is why this Government have conduced multilateral and bilateral aid reviews, to ensure that we can demonstrate to the public that this money is really well spent.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

My right hon. Friend keeps talking about how we should spend our money, but he might have noticed that we have not got any money. What he is actually asking us to do is borrow billions of pounds to pass on to other countries. The actual cost to the taxpayer is even more than 0.7% because we have to pay interest—

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Panel of Chairs, Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Panel of Chairs

Order. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will want time to speak as well. May I just remind everybody that there are 16 speakers to come? I know, Mr Davies, that you will wish to contribute and I want you to save that part of your speech for later. I am not knocking it, but there are 16 Members who want to speak. I just want to try to help to make sure that you get in as well.

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield

I will come in a moment to the point raised by my hon. Friend Philip Davies.

I want to briefly mention three particularly important points. First, on vaccinations, which have been mentioned, Britain has taken a leadership role. Throughout its course, this Parliament will vaccinate a child in the poorest parts of the world every two seconds and save the life of a child every two minutes by protecting them against diseases that none of our children, thank goodness, die from.

Secondly, on family planning, which is also championed by Britain, as a result of the initiative to crowd in other countries with their support and taxpayers’ funds, we will, over the next six years, be able to reduce by half the number of poor women in the world who want access to contraception and family planning but are not able to get it.

Thirdly—this was also mentioned by the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath—it is absolutely critical to get girls into school. It is the opinion of many of us that that is the way to change the world for the better. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Sudan. Today a girl born in Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than to complete her primary school education. This Government, with all-party support, have introduced the girls’ education challenge fund, designed to ensure that 1 million girls in the most difficult parts of the world get an education.

Those are world-changing actions which have been championed by Britain through a policy that is not the property of any one political party. It is not a Conservative, Labour or Liberal policy—it is a British policy and I believe that increasingly, our constituents champion that.

Photo of Greg Mulholland Greg Mulholland Liberal Democrat, Leeds North West

I, too, pay tribute to the role my right hon. Friend played when he was an International Development Secretary of whom I think we were all very proud. Does he agree that, despite some of the dissenting, rather depressing voices suggesting that this is some form of charity, this is actually about investment in a safer, fairer, more stable world, which is clearly in this country’s interest?

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield

My hon. Friend is absolutely correct: this is an investment in tackling conflict, building prosperity, promoting good governance and tackling poverty. That is what the development budget does. In that respect, the UK is a world leader. Our security and stability in this country are assured not only by our brilliant armed forces, but by training the police in Afghanistan, building up governance structures in the middle east and getting girls in the horn of Africa into school. All those things make us safer and more secure in this country. It is hugely in our national interest and that is what the development budget is spent on.

One example that is worth mentioning is Somalia. Britain intervened to try to do something about the appalling famine that took place there in 2011. By crowding in the regional powers, the different parties in Somalia and the great powers at the United Nations to a conference in London, we tried to ensure that that benighted country—some of the most ungoverned space in the world—could develop some sort of order. Whisper it not too loudly, but after so many failed international attempts during the past 20 years, progress is being made in Somalia. It is another example of development policy that is helping people in one of the most benighted countries in the world, and also helping our security and stability in Britain.

In looking at the problems in northern Nigeria, Mali, Libya, Somalia, Iraq and Syria, we can all accept that although there may be a need for smart weapons delivered from 12,000 feet, people are responsive to the smart policies of tackling corruption and of building accountability and good governance, and UK development spending contributes to all those things.

When it comes to building prosperity, at one level our work has helped the poorest in the world through microfinance and, at the top level, the important reforms of the CDC have made it far more accountable and far better at delivering development objectives through the deployment of patient capital and pioneer capital. The significance of that very important reform will increasingly be seen. Under its new chairman, Graham Wrigley, and its outstanding chief executive, Diana Noble, the CDC is once again giving a lead around the world in tackling poverty.

One area where I agree with the Minister—I know that the Bill’s promoter is absolutely receptive to this point—is that the Independent Commission for Aid Impact is the right mechanism to ensure accountability. Under its chairman, Graham Ward, it has done an excellent job. It is a vital addition to the development architecture. ICAI is not a comfortable organisation for Ministers, as I fully recall. It reports not to Ministers, who are able to sweep inconvenient truths under the carpet, but to the International Development Committee. My right hon. Friend Sir Malcolm Bruce and his Committee colleagues have shown themselves to be fearless in pursuing the Government when alerted to difficulties by the independent commission. ICAI can deliver precisely what my right hon. Friend wants to see in the Bill, and what the House wishes to endorse.

Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

I confess that I cannot see why the Independent Commission for Aid Impact should not be given statutory backing. I therefore hope that when the Bill is further considered, it might be possible, in clause 5, simply to give statutory backing to what has been created as ICAI.

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield

My right hon. Friend makes an interesting point. Of course, ICAI was created through an Order in Council. There have been discussions about placing it on a statutory basis, and I think that it should be, because it has earned such a position. He may want to speak to our right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, whom I am sure he will find receptive.

Let us pass the Bill and take development spending out of party politics. The Bill reflects our values as a country and our desire to help the least well-off. It is also hugely in our national interest, which is the answer to my hon. Friend Philip Davies and my other hon. Friends on the dissident Bench. The Bill is hugely in our national interest, and it is an investment in greater security and prosperity for us all and in the future of our children and of generations to come.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Chair, Public Accounts Commission, Chair, Public Accounts Commission

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The debate will soon have been going on for two hours. Before the proponents of the Bill move the closure, you will want to have at least one speech against it, will you not?

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Panel of Chairs, Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Panel of Chairs

The Chair will always look after the Chamber first. Rest assured that whoever is in the Chair will make sure that as many voices as possible are heard before any closure. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not want to influence the Chair in any way whatsoever, as a senior member of the Panel of Chairs.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 11:52, 12 September 2014

I am delighted that the Bill has been introduced by Michael Moore, and I am pleased to follow the former Secretary of State for International Development, Mr Mitchell.

During my nine and a bit years in the House, I have had the huge privilege of visiting overseas projects to see at first hand the excellent work done by DFID, along with NGOs such as Results UK, Oxfam, World Vision, Farm Africa and so on. The visits have ranged from looking at health projects in Malawi, where they are tackling TB and HIV through vaccination programmes and advice on family planning, to going to the camps for internally displaced people in northern Uganda, which was the first time I had been overseas as an MP—I was with Sir Malcolm Bruce, who I hope will speak in a moment—and sparked in me a realisation that we can do so much for people. Those in the camps, who had been displaced from their homes for the best part of two decades, were living on one meal and their clothes were charity handouts from the UK, but we could see the work that DFID was doing. Since then, I have had the privilege of seeing many other projects on the ground.

Today I will focus on an issue that was touched on briefly by the right hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk—that of climate change and the need for overseas development assistance to be directed towards the countries that are most at risk to help with adaptation and mitigation. As the shadow Secretary of State for International Development said on another occasion:

“The climate is the central development issue of the next century. If we fail to tackle the changes in our environment, all the gains we make elsewhere—from health and poverty to food and sanitation—will be reversed.”

I have just returned from three days in El Salvador with my hon. Friend Gavin Shuker, the shadow Minister for International Development, and Christian Aid. That country is the fourth most at risk from climate change. El Salvador is not currently in receipt of DFID funding, but much of what I have to say is relevant to countries that are.

Photo of Adam Holloway Adam Holloway Conservative, Gravesham

As a former trustee of Christian Aid and television foreign correspondent, I agree that we must support the poorest people in the world, but does the hon. Lady not agree that it is completely crazy for a deeply indebted nation to ring-fence any spending, especially when we are failing in our first duty by cutting defence spending?

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

No, I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. That point has been more than adequately answered by other Members in this debate.

As I said, El Salvador is not in receipt of DFID funding, but some countries that do receive it are also at risk from climate change. In Kashmir, 460 people have died in monsoon floods and 1 million people have been displaced from their homes. Countries such as Bangladesh, the Philippines, Malawi, Kenya and many small island states are also extremely vulnerable. Of the £12 billion the UK spends on ODA each year, about £500 million is officially classified as climate finance. I will make the case for continuing to fund those projects and, indeed, for strengthening them.

Changing weather patterns and extreme climatic events have left El Salvador suffering both droughts and flooding. We saw on our visit how this year’s maize harvest has suffered because of the drought. As most of the farming is subsistence farming, people are going hungry as a result. There is a growing food security crisis in El Salvador and a food aid programme has been rolled out across parts of the country.

We also saw efforts to combat flooding by building levees, replanting mangroves and undertaking reforestation programmes. As in the UK, changes in agricultural land use, deforestation, and soil erosion and degradation have exacerbated the impact of the floods and increased the likelihood of landslides.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. She has made an important point about forests and replanting. Is there enough international support for reforestation, not just in El Salvador but throughout the river system of central America? The way in which the boundaries are drawn means that it has to be an international effort.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I know that my hon. Friend takes an interest in Mexico and Latin America as a whole. This issue affects the whole continent. Reforestation would help not only to prevent the risks that I am describing by acting as a natural barrier to flooding but to reduce carbon emissions because the forests are the lungs of the continent. I agree that more could be done not only to increase reforestation, but to halt the process of deforestation, which I will come to in a moment.

In countries such as El Salvador, which are already vulnerable to earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, floods and landslides, such natural threats turn into full-blown disasters because of the high levels of poverty and vulnerability, and the lack of infrastructure. We spoke to local farmers and environmental activists about the impact of the significant number of climatic events over the past decade, including Hurricane Mitch, Hurricane Stan and, most recently, tropical depression 12-E, when 1.5 metres of rain fell in 10 days, destroying crops, killing livestock and displacing people from their homes and land.

The region’s climate vulnerability is worsening. The UN report on climate change identified three challenges for central America: to resolve high levels of socio-economic and environmental vulnerability; to promote climate change adaptation; and to move towards sustainable, low carbon economics based on renewable sources.

Now is a critical time in addressing this problem. The world is looking to secure a new climate deal in Paris in December 2015. A new framework of post-2015 sustainable development goals will be agreed next year by the UN to replace the millennium development goals. It is important that climate resilience and disaster risk reduction are included in those goals. Thirdly, the Hyogo framework for action, which is the globally agreed approach to managing disaster risk reduction, will be replaced after 2015 with a new resilience framework which needs to address the challenges posed by disasters, climate change, natural resources management, conflict and poverty in an integrated way. It is not just about mitigation and adaptation—introducing climate-resilient crops, early warning systems, protection from flooding and the other things I have mentioned—but about developing a rights-based approach and about climate justice.

The countries most at risk from man-made climate change are not those responsible for causing it. They have much smaller carbon footprints than developed industrialised countries—countries in which multinational companies, particularly in the extractive and farming industries, exacerbate the problem by displacing people from their land, replacing sustainable agriculture with monocrops, deforestation on a massive scale, and the use of pesticides that infect the water supply and much more.

The UN committee on loss and damage, which is the closest thing to climate justice, will report in 2016. In El Salvador, environmental tribunals have been introduced. Judges are charged with assessing expert scientific evidence, and the burden of proof rests on the polluter to prove their innocence, thereby confronting economic powers that until now have too often had impunity on environmental violations.

Much more is to be done across the world to protect, strengthen and enforce climate rights. We heard disturbing accounts of how the central America free trade agreement has made it difficult for El Salvador to promote native seeds, which is part of the effort to reinstate organic farming, and to ban the import of pesticides. That is surely wrong. As part of the fight against climate change, we must also consider broader issues such as how we can encourage a different, more sustainable model of development in countries benefitting from ODA.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

The hon. Lady is making an excellent speech about the way the world’s poorest people are those most likely to be affected by climate change. I am sure she is aware that 75% of the population of Bangladesh is at risk from rising sea levels. Does she agree that one way we can help a country such as Bangladesh become more sustainable is through development assistance to build resilience in those communities, with early flood warning systems and adaptations to the way people live, so that lives can be saved?

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

The right hon. Lady is entirely correct and I am pleased she is speaking in this debate. Bangladesh is the country most vulnerable to climate change in the world, and adaptation is an important part of the issue, particularly with things such as early flood warning systems. We saw those in practice in El Salvador—perhaps we need to look more at that for certain parts of the UK as well. Adaptation with, for example, drought resilient crops and changing agricultural methods so that people can cope with extreme weather conditions—whether that be drought or huge rainfalls—is important, and DFID has a major role to play in supporting that through some of our agricultural expertise.

I went to Kenya with the all-party group on agriculture and food for development, and we looked at some of the work that Farm Africa is doing, on a very small scale, to help farmers adapt to changing conditions. Tiny measures with little financial output can result in much more sustainable and profitable farming. Good work is being done, but although DFID has done brilliant work on issues such as education, health and microfinance, to an extent agricultural development has been neglected. That is what feeds people. We cannot just rely on food aid programmes and handing out food to people who cannot afford to feed themselves; we must find ways to make their livelihoods sustainable.

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Conservative, Eddisbury

The hon. Lady is making an important point, and although today’s debate is about enshrining spending on overseas aid in legislation, for agricultural prioritisation in DFID we need a unity of approach that recognises that not only protecting small holders but increasing farming is the way forward. Until there is more unity of approach, it will be difficult to get settled views on what projects to select.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I agree that a united approach would be good, and I am sure there are many issues we can discuss across the House. We must consider how we can encourage a different, more sustainable model of development in countries that benefit from our aid, and think carefully about how we can protect and preserve the world’s resources, rather than assuming that they are always there to be plundered.

To conclude, the fight to tackle climate change, increase climate resilience and protect vulnerable communities from climate risk must be a central part of DFID’s work, and the importance of that work is one reason why I speak today in support of enshrining the 0.7% target in law. As a first step, we need to make progress on climate finance, on the commitments made by Heads of State at Copenhagen and the creation of the Green Climate Fund, and on mobilising $100 billion a year of climate finance by 2020. UK NGOs, led by Oxfam, are asking that the UK Government pledge $1 billion as a “fair” contribution to the Green Climate Fund, spread over three years. That should be possible because the UK has about £1.8 billion left to play with in the international climate fund, which is where the contribution would come from.

As we approach Ban Ki-moon’s summit in New York in September, it is up to the UK to show international leadership, as we have done on international development issues across the board, by being one of the first countries to state how much it is pledging to the green climate fund. We should show leadership on this issue; it is too important to leave to others.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Chair, International Development Committee, Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats, Chair, International Development Committee 12:05, 12 September 2014

I am pleased to follow Kerry McCarthy and recall the visit that she and I made to Uganda. I welcome the positive news now that most of those people have been able to return to their homes, after an appalling period as refugees. I also follow the shadow Secretary of State, who is not in his place, in his tribute to Jim Dobbin, with whom I visited Bangladesh a couple of years ago when he was looking at the cold chain for a vaccination against pneumonia. He was dedicated to his work and a thoroughly decent man, and I think the House will miss the further contributions he could have made.

I am pleased to support the Bill introduced by my right hon. Friend Michael Moore. I am glad he has been able to bring it forward, generate support across the House and fulfil the promises that all three main parties and the coalition agreement made. I think the Bill is timely. Some might say, “If you’ve already met the 0.7% target, why bother to put it in law”. It is precisely because we have achieved it that people need to know that the commitment will continue, not least because, contrary to what people might think, there is a rising need for development assistance.

The crisis in the middle east has led to a substantial demand for humanitarian relief, of which the UK has been one of the most important sponsors: £600 million of our funding has gone to support refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and of course continues to go to Israel and Palestine. It is unfortunate that other countries with a similar interest to ours in that region—France, in particular—have come nowhere near our level of commitment. It is important that we continue to pressurise these countries to accept their share of the responsibility. Being the first G7 country to deliver 0.7% and then enshrine it in law would be a clear statement to our allies that we expect more of them. We should continue to pressure them to rise to the challenge. Unfortunately, however, as the humanitarian demand increases so some of our bilateral programmes are having to be cut. If we can maintain a rising aid budget, we should be able to maintain the bilateral programmes and deliver the humanitarian relief, and not have to choose between the two, as is currently the case—a concern expressed by the International Development Committee, which I chair.

As Mr Brown said, our commitment helps to draw out further commitments from our development partners. My Committee today published a report on health systems strengthening, which DFID does well within our bilateral programmes, but which others are not so good at. The problem is that many of the countries in which we are operating with bilateral development programmes are not matching their own commitments on health. Under an international agreement, they are supposed to be spending 15% of their Government budgets on health, but only about two countries in sub-Saharan Africa are doing that. We can use our leverage to say, “We will put money in, provided you match it, and between us we can help to deliver sustainable health systems.” DFID has not done that everywhere, I am afraid, but it has the power to do it where nobody else can, and this kind of commitment will enable us to do so.

That brings me to another point. Our meeting the 0.7% target is not just about showing the country’s macho commitment to compassion; it enables us to deliver real leadership in the world. I have had the privilege of being Chair of the International Development Committee for more than nine years, and I have made nearly 30 visits to developing countries. I know what the UK looks like from the other end of the telescope. It is treated with much greater respect and regard than we often recognise ourselves, and that is because—I give credit to Labour, actually—our aid is untied and focused on poverty, which gives it a much cleaner edge: people see that it is not about the UK’s short-term commercial interests, but about a genuine desire to eradicate poverty, improve living standards and deal with humanitarian crises. Yes, as my hon. Friend Greg Mulholland said, it is in our national interest to do this in the long run, but it is a long-term objective, not one we measure in the short term. It is based on recognising that the development of these poorer countries helps our development, which helps their development—and so the cycle continues.

I have no compunction whatever about defending our commitment. I have been challenged on it on many occasions. People frequently say how much they would like the money to be spent on something else. During the floods in Somerset, for example, people were saying we should divert the aid budget to deal with that. On a live programme when I was standing next to a woman standing up to her thighs in water in her home, a politician—of a party not represented by any currently elected Member—said, “We should take the aid money and give it to this lady”. I said, “I would rather take this lady to some place in sub-Saharan Africa to meet a woman who has had three children who did not live to their fifth birthday and invite her to tell me that she would rather have the money than let that family have it.” I am glad to say that the woman said, “Of course I wouldn’t”. We know where the difference is. Poverty in these countries does not compare to poverty here; we should make no such comparison.

In passing, it is worth saying that DFID delivers what it does with a remarkably small staff and low administrative costs from offices around the world and its shared headquarters in London and East Kilbride. I have visited both centres on a number of occasions. I think the system works extremely well. It is sad that many people in Scotland do not realise how much activity on the development front is delivered by 600 people in East Kilbride, or appreciate its quality.

If Scotland were to vote to leave the UK next week—I hope it will not, and I do not believe it will—it would have an immediate disruptive effect on DFID. For a start, DFID would lose £1 billion of its budget—the Scottish share, effectively—and would have to redesign its programmes, readjust and, over time, relocate its headquarters. That would be a distraction from delivering poverty reduction where it is most needed. Much more to the point, it would weaken what I think is the transformational capacity that the UK has in development, of which Scotland is an integral part. I would personally hate to see Scotland breaking away and setting up another agency, which would take years and would weaken the one we have got, by no means delivering one as comparably good in any short order. People need to understand what would be lost if we did that. It is just one other aspect of what breaking up the UK would do, which, to my mind, it is not in the interests of the people of Scotland or of the people in the rest of world that we are seeking to help.

Photo of Michael Weir Michael Weir Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

I am sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman going down this road, as I agreed with him up to that point. Does he not understand and accept that the Scottish Government are committed to writing in the 0.7% figure and that Scotland’s international development would add to overall international development? There is absolutely no reason why this should lead to a reduction; it would lead to an increase. Does the right hon. Gentleman not accept my earlier point that small, north European, independent countries have always been in the lead with this?

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Chair, International Development Committee, Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats, Chair, International Development Committee

I am sorry I gave way, because the hon. Gentleman had already made that point. I thought I had made the point that we would be breaking up a world-class organisation, damaging and distracting it. I do not think Scotland will be able to come up with anything comparable any time soon.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

I think that the House should calm down and examine exactly what the right hon. Gentleman is saying; it is factual. Judith Hart believed in the dispersal of civil service jobs. She headed what was then the Department for Overseas Development. East Kilbride became the headquarters for the United Kingdom, working in tandem with Victoria. It stands to reason that if Scotland is foolish enough—I do not believe it will be—to vote for independence, those jobs will simply be lost because they are serving a much bigger united—

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Panel of Chairs, Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Panel of Chairs

Order. We must have shorter interventions. There are many Members still to speak, and it is helpful to all if we can have short interventions, quick answers and Members carrying on with their speeches.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Chair, International Development Committee, Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats, Chair, International Development Committee

All I will say is that a Scottish agency of similar efficiency would require only a fifth of the jobs that are currently based in East Kilbride.

I want to conclude by saying two things. The first is about the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, which reports to the Select Committee that I have the honour to chair. I believe that ICAI has become an established and useful body that holds DFID to account—I know that Ministers find it uncomfortable. Although it is appointed by Ministers, it is accountable through the Select Committee to Parliament. I believe that that arrangement could usefully be enshrined in law. I say in passing that there are some concerns that, as ICAI moves to its second phase and has been reassessed, there may be some compromise of its independence, albeit not intentionally.

Putting ICAI’s independence in statute and ensuring that it operated as an independent body, reporting through Parliament to DFID, would be an essential component of ensuring not only that we delivered the 0.7% and that justifications for any variations could be independently examined, but also—to make the former Secretary of State’s point—that the quality of what we delivered was continually assessed, so that we did what was best and made it work better. That would be beneficial to all of us. I hope the Government will consider that proposal—maybe my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk can come to an arrangements about it—because it would be valuable.

One privilege of being the Chair of a Committee such as mine is that I have had many opportunities to visit other countries. I think I have made more than 30 such visits to sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia and other parts of the world to see the work we do, on our own and in partnership with other international organisations, bilateral donors and NGOs. It is transformational and world-class work and something of which this country can be proud. We lead the world in what we do and the effectiveness with which we do it, and that is understood and appreciated wherever we go. We have fantastic, dedicated staff working in those places, sometimes in extremely difficult and challenging conditions. As a country, we have every reason to be proud of what they do. This Bill stands up, as people have said, as a great British totem of a country that has engaged in what poverty reduction really means, is committed to it and is absolutely clear that we will go on delivering on our obligations in future, regardless of what anybody else does, but also as a beacon to others, so that they are a little ashamed of what they have done and perhaps respond to our challenge.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons) 12:17, 12 September 2014

It is a privilege to speak in the debate, following so many distinguished and committed speakers. I add my tributes to Michael Moore, not only for introducing the Bill, but because he has long been a passionate campaigner committed to these issues, as I have seen over many years, both when I worked as a campaigner and in this House.

As many Members will be aware, I have had the privilege of working on these issues for many years with agencies that are in receipt of our aid and support, whether it was Oxfam or World Vision. I also had the deep privilege to work at the Department for International Development. As many Members have said, including Sir Malcolm Bruce, DFID—the staff and all who work there, and indeed Ministers from all parties who have served there—is an absolute credit to the country.

I also pay tribute to the last Labour Government. I was lucky to work in a team that drafted an earlier version of this Bill and started some of this debate. That is why it is great to see the consensus in much of the House today that we should put this matter to bed—that we should put this commitment down in law and that it should ultimately be a matter that goes beyond party politics, to show what Britain is about in the world and what we intend to do. I also add my tribute to all the campaigners who have spoken with so many of us, not only in the last weeks but over so many years, making clear the passion for this issue across the country, and to all those who save lives today. I pay tribute to their campaigning work, their influence and their effort.

I want to go back almost a decade, to 2005, to two instances in my experience of campaigning and working on these issues. The first was from a visit I paid to Malawi with World Vision, which I was working with at the time. If anything has stuck with me over these years, it is the experiences I had on that visit, which show why what we do on this issue is so crucial. I travelled to areas that were suffering the worst effects of a serious drought and water shortage, with food shortages apparent in the south of the country. I saw the contrast between the leafy plantations producing tobacco, tea and other products, and the people living in absolute squalor and poverty a few miles down the road, queuing for sacks of rice and grain from World Food Programme feeding stations, which were working with World Vision, with support from the UK Government. That contrast—between the absolute rich at the one end and the privileges we enjoy in this country, and the people, many of them suffering diseases, including HIV/AIDS, queuing up for food in the hot sun—has stuck with me for the rest of my life.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the significance of the UK aid programme to Malawi is demonstrated by the fact that there has not been another famine there since it began? Sacks of grain were given, particularly to women in the community, in return for the construction of roads, so that lives could be saved by shorter journey times to hospitals. That is a prime example of making that country more sustainable through aid.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons)

I wholeheartedly agree. As many Members will be aware, Malawi has gone through many challenges since then, but that is a story of success and, indeed, there are many other success stories as a result of the support from aid.

Also that summer I spent a number of days and months in the fine city of Edinburgh in advance of the Gleneagles summit, and I was privileged to march with, and stand alongside, 250,000 people from all over this country—including many from across Scotland—who took advantage of that unique opportunity and our role in the G8 and on the world stage to put the pressure on to do the things that my right hon. Friend Mr Brown talked about, and to cancel that debt, to treble the aid, and to argue for fairer trade rules. That shows how passionate people up and down this country are about this issue, despite the siren voices we hear from the other end of the spectrum of opinion. There were people from churches, from mosques, from all faiths and none, and from communities up and down this country. The rich and the poor and young families marched alongside each other, making clear that no matter what challenges we face in this country—and we face many—they want to stand alongside those who live in abject poverty and injustice in this world. I shall return to that point.

There are two fundamental arguments, and many Members have touched on them. The first is our moral duty. I have always fervently believed this, influenced by my own faith and upbringing, and I know many Members share that view. It is based on the idea that the character of poverty is similar wherever we see it, whether in this country or abroad. Obviously, it is experienced in extreme forms in a number of the countries we have been talking about, and there is the same lack of hope, of aspiration and of opportunity. Ultimately, we are all born equal, but unfortunately some of us do not have the opportunities that others have, and I believe we fundamentally have a duty to serve those who have less than we do.

The other argument that has always been absolutely clear to me is that this is in our common interest. It is clearly in our national interest, but it is in our common interest, too, to care about these matters. I spoke in my very first speech in this House about the impact of conflict, instability and poverty on communities in my own constituency—the links of many people from places such as Somalia, Somaliland, Yemen, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the concern they have for their fellow brothers and sisters in the countries from where their families originally came—but also the impact that poverty and instability in a number of those countries is having on our own streets. Poverty, injustice and oppression go hand in hand with conflict and instability, and we must act. We must give a solid commitment in this House and stop this zero-sum game of trying to separate off defence, diplomacy and development and what we do in our own country. We try to separate them all off from each other, rather than look at them as a holistic whole, and in doing so we are making a huge mistake.

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North

Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that the passage of this Bill will not result in a single extra pound being spent on this country’s international aid budget?

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons)

If the economy grows, it will do, of course. The crucial thing is that we are tying this to the state of our overall economy, but it is also setting a worldwide standard, and it is meeting a promise we made in the 1970s, and which, indeed, all parties in this House committed to.

We could give many examples. Mrs Spelman mentioned one from Malawi, and I have seen for myself the impact of effective aid led by the expertise in DFID, whether in Sierra Leone in tackling maternal mortality and the deaths of young children, and the impact we were able to make with a very small contribution and removing user fees for basic health care services; in our action to tackle malaria, on which Mr O'Brien did excellent work in his time as Minister in the Department; or through the education programmes we have funded, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, the former Prime Minister, spoke about. There is also our work on HIV and AIDS, which I know many Members are very passionate about, and, indeed, our humanitarian work.

It was also a privilege to be able to serve alongside people from DFID, the Ministry of Defence, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service and the Foreign Office, who worked on our response to the terrible Haiti earthquake many years ago. Disasters such as Haiti demonstrate exactly what is at stake. In addition to providing the immediate humanitarian response, we also need to address the underlying causes of vulnerability in those situations. That requires long-term, predictable and assured assistance from countries such as ours.

The argument about predictability has been put forward a number of times. Members have asked why we need the Bill, and why we need to firm up this commitment and put it into law. The reason is that the predictable assurance of effective aid in the long term creates an ability to move away from aid. If we can support countries in building up strong health and education systems and good governance, we will ultimately be able to move them away from needing development assistance.

This activity also helps to create a social contract in countries where people should be able to expect services such as health and education to be provided by their Government. Our assistance can get them over that hump. That is what happened in this country. Let us not forget that, many years ago, health care and education services were provided voluntarily, as charity, here before we moved to nationally funded systems. We can have a debate about how those systems should be handled in the future, but we have moved to those national systems with national standards and predictable, secure funding. That creates an expectation among the population and helps to further democracy and the overall quality of life in a country. We should never forget that. This is a fundamental point to be made to those who ask why we need this commitment.

Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that another important consequence of predictable funding is that, through DFID, we are able to support long-term programmes of research, particularly agricultural research and health research into much needed vaccines and medicines? Does he agree that those are global public goods?

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons)

I thoroughly agree with the hon. Gentleman. I have seen many of those programmes at work, and we should pay tribute to those in DFID who work on them. DFID is a world leader in research on many of these issues, and we need to see long-term funding going into those programmes to enable us to come up with solutions for agriculture, for vaccinations and for other crucial areas. In the end, such solutions will remove the need for further support. We need the assurance for that funding, however, because if it is simply left to the whims and the day-to-day politics of this place and of other countries around the world, it could easily fall victim to the siren voices, which would ultimately do long-term damage as we would not be able to achieve the scale and effectiveness that we require.

Many right hon. and hon. Members have mentioned the importance of Scotland. It is exemplified by the fact that the Bill is being promoted by the right hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk and by the presence today of the Chairman of the Select Committee, the right hon. Member for Gordon. We must remember the impact that Scotland has had on these debates, not only here in the House but globally. I mentioned the impact of the Make Poverty History march in Scotland before the Gleneagles summit. That summit would not have taken place there if Scotland had not been part of the United Kingdom. The people of Scotland who feel passionately about these issues would not have been able to have that impact on cancelling debt, trebling aid and arguing for fairer trade rules had that summit not taken place in Scotland and had we not had leaders including our Prime Minister and Chancellor who were willing to stand up for those issues and respond to those campaigners.

Some of the most excellent DFID staff are to be found in Scotland, in East Kilbride. I have had the pleasure of visiting their offices. The right hon. Member for Gordon and my right hon. Friend Mr Clarke have rightly said that it would be a huge tragedy to lose them. In response to Mr Weir, I would say that, yes, Scotland could have an aid programme—it already gives support to Malawi and other countries, and that is fantastic—but effective aid depends on scale. It depends on doing things together and working with institutions such as the European Union and the United Nations and with successful, long-established development agencies such as DFID. Breaking that up in order to set up a separate scheme and badge it in a different way would be foolish. It would be a sad ending for the hundreds of thousands of people who stood on the streets of Edinburgh in 2005.

The Bill is about investing in the future of some of the world’s poorest people. It is also about investing in our own common future. This is the right thing to do. It is about justice, not charity. It is about putting Britain on the world stage and doing the right thing.

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Conservative, Eddisbury 12:29, 12 September 2014

I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests relating to some of the subjects covered in the Bill.

I warmly welcome the Bill and congratulate its promoter and sponsors on bringing it forward. Having introduced a couple of private Members’ Bills in the past, I know how much work has preceded my right hon. Friend Michael Moore bringing it to the Chamber today.

I also congratulate all the previous speakers, because their contributions highlighted, in their various ways, what this subject is really about; they showed that it goes across the House and it is above party politics. We have a deep commitment, as part of our values as a nation in the relatively richer part of the planet, and we are able to find what our role is as global citizens in an increasingly globalised world. Therefore, I also welcome the appropriate scrutiny and challenge provided by those who are focused on the essence of what we are dealing with today, which is not so much whether or not we should have good international development and a humanitarian capacity but, above all, whether it is appropriate to enshrine it in law as a matter of our politics, our choice and our accountability to the people we represent.

The Bill is notably well drafted, although I take the same issue as others have with one aspect. I had some share of the responsibility for introducing the Independent

Commission for Aid Impact, and we have seen how it works as an accountable mechanism to the Select Committee, not to Ministers, and has caused some discomfort to Ministers, both past, such as me, and current. When this Bill progresses into Committee, as I hope it does, It will be interesting to see whether clause 5 can be amended to bring this mechanism in line with what is already established, and without duplication.

Equally, it will be important to understand what we mean by introducing declaratory legislation. I share the grave discomfiture of other Members about this House passing such legislation, so I have had to ask myself about this today and when I was defending this policy as a Minister. The policy was promoted in all three main parties’ manifestos and survived the coalition agreement in explicit terms, which means that we are all here in this Session of Parliament standing on that promise. None the less it is declaratory legislation, so what is the true meaning of why we do it? It is not as though this is about a criminal sanction, an offence or a civil requirement to make up money if it is not spent; it is about this House having the chance to receive, at an authoritative level, a statement from the Secretary of State and if we have failed to live up to the promises we have all made, we will see the ultimate expression of political embarrassment. So we are talking about one of our greatest abilities to put the feet of Ministers and any Government, of any stripe, to the fire.

Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

I find it ironic that in so far as there is opposition to this target being put into legislation, it often comes from those who, in other circumstances, are most zealous in saying that Parliament is separate from Government and that it is the job of Parliament to say what its view is, as distinct from relying on the Government to deliver things. Does my right hon. Friend share that feeling? In truth, as we know, if Parliament wishes something to happen and wishes to require the Government to do it, it has to set it in statute. This Bill allows Parliament to do exactly that, in a relationship with the Government; the relationship is not with the courts, but just between Parliament and the Government.

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Conservative, Eddisbury

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that, and for his expertise in understanding the procedures of this House and its relationship with the representational accountability we have as constituency Members. He is right to say that the pressure involved here is on not allowing the courts to intervene on targets—we have seen that going wrong in other circumstances. Having too many targets encompassed by these methods would devalue them. But isolating and choosing particular key targets on which there is accountability to this House, where we have the political power to hold people to account on them, is precisely what underpins the Bill, and that is why this proposed statute is absolutely the right way to go.

I do not wish to detain the House longer than is necessary, because we have heard a lot of powerful contributions on the true justification for the Bill. I believe we all feel passionately that we have an obligation to find a way to support the most vulnerable on our planet, and most see things in terms of a combination. Some may see this just as a moral imperative, and that is great, but in a way that view is not shared. This is a fundamental, hard-nosed, pragmatic expression of our British self-interest: not only is this approach better for the potential trade we can have with more stable countries whose economic growth and human development indices can be improved, but we cannot have security in this ever more doubtful and very frightening world unless we first tackle the nursery bed upon which insecurity breeds, which is poverty, particularly in places where there are avoidable deaths. That is why, for one reason or another, I have devoted at least 30 years to trying to tackle tropical diseases.

I do not wish to be accused of being a soft touch on these matters; I am someone who believes passionately in the defence of the realm. Although it is best to leave things when they are seen as personal issues, I take a particularly keen interest in the matter, not because I enjoyed my service in the armed forces parliamentary scheme and am about to join the Royal College of Defence Studies course, but because I have a son who is an officer cadet at Sandhurst. These things are interrelated with security, governance and democratic accountability. The former Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend Mr Mitchell, whose work in this area has been well acknowledged and rightly so, said that the greatest undermining issue for all of us involved in this world is the sense that this issue is either wasted or corrupted. The best antiseptic or antidote to that is transparency, and enormous progress is being made in that area, not least by the ICAI, which reports not to Ministers but to the objective Select Committee.

This debate is not about the merits of international development, modalities or even re-emphasising why performing such work is as much in our British interest as it is in our rightful role as global citizens. We should not necessarily be focused only on impacts and the potential for graduation from aid and economic development to trade. South Korea, Vietnam and Angola have made such a graduation; how many more such examples can we look forward to in the coming years? This is not about defining the post-2015 goals, but about fulfilling our promises. That is fundamental for all of us who are committed to democracy. When we stand on platforms and make promises, we need to have the means by which we can deliver on those promises.

Questions remain. In addition to the scale of our work, we need to look at the technical excellence of DFID. The Department has become a world leader in its delivery capability, research capacity and ability to forge partnerships. Our current Secretary of State and the ministerial team show leadership and ensure that there is integration in their work. It is a Department of State delivering on broad Government objectives and policies and not some semi-detached part of Government working on a separate agenda. It is integral to our desire for a secure world, which can deliver the best benefits for all citizens.

Above all, we are talking about the capacity of DFID to build sustainable partnerships, increase the domestic mobilisation of resources as economies develop, work with non-governmental organisations, philanthropists, companies and businesses, and be explicit that this is not a public versus private sector battle. This is a joint enterprise in which we are all trying to reach the same objective, which is to prevent avoidable deaths and improve the conditions, lives and opportunities of those who, with a bit of help, can certainly have that chance.

Why are we talking about declaratory legislation? It would be interesting to introduce a Bill in which we promise never to spend less than 2% of our gross national income on defence. Instinctively, I am sympathetic to that idea. This is different, important and has to happen. It is not like defence, which is of course a proper choice of this Parliament and of Governments. It is right that they should decide how much to put into defence and where they sit in the world. This has to happen because we made a promise that was measured by the Development Assistance Committee and the OECD against a completely objective international set of criteria. That means that in order to enshrine our assistance as a percentage—therefore fluctuating with our own GNI and prosperity—we have an objective test to meet. For the Secretary of State to come to this House to report that we have fulfilled that objective promise is important not only as a useful encouragement to others to step up to the plate as well, but because it gives us a sense that we can look our constituents in the eye and say that when we made that promise we meant it. On their behalf, we have used taxpayers’ money. It is not just money from their pockets, which would be better described as charity rather than assistance for development purposes. That gives us the chance to make the scale differences.

I support this Bill. The 0.7% of GNI measured by an international test needs that objective reporting accountability within the best political sphere we can find, which is this Parliament under the tests imposed by clause 3. I hope that although there will always be examples that can easily be produced to try to undermine the whole agenda, such as a bit of waste or a bit of corruption here and there, that will not take away from our commitment—a commitment made by us, who have the privilege of access to greater funds than many countries whose people’s lives we wish to improve, and a commitment that will outlast most of us in this Chamber—to help the stability of the world and to reduce the opportunities for opportunist insecurity enacted by people who do not share our values and do not want chances for their own people. The Bill is the best way of enshrining the feet-to-the-fire approach that will give us greater impetus and, above all, confidence and predictability as it would make it very difficult for any future Government or set of politicians to undermine it. That will give us all confidence that we have an opportunity to build a better future.

Photo of Nia Griffith Nia Griffith Shadow Minister (Wales) 12:40, 12 September 2014

When someone comes second in the ballot for private Members’ Bills they are inundated with requests for different types of Bills, so I heartily congratulate Michael Moore on choosing this particular topic, which is vital. I must express my disappointment that although this was a commitment from all the major parties for the 2010 election, in four and a half years we have not had a Government Bill on the subject. I was pleased to hear the Minister’s speech today and I hope he will do everything he can to facilitate the Bill’s passage before the next general election.

I want also to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend Mr Brown for the immense amount of work he did as Chancellor and as Prime Minister, from the setting up of DFID to his work on the home front and in the international sphere. In our time in government we increased our spending on overseas aid from 0.26% of GDP to 0.56% and made a commitment to bring that up to 0.7% by 2013. I also pay tribute to his excellent work on the international stage, such as his work with G7 nations to convince them to cancel the debts of some of the poorest countries.

Of course we have serious problems of inequality in our own country and we must continue to tackle them, but they are problems of inequality and redistribution and we remain a very rich country—the 20th wealthiest in the world and the sixth biggest economy. We are not only a wealthy country; we are still a very influential country. That is why this Bill is important. In the same way as we had a world first with our Climate Change Act 2008, this is an opportunity to make a public commitment and to use the fact that we have made that commitment to give reassurance to those to whom we are giving aid and set an example to the many other countries that we would like to follow suit.

The Bill enjoys enormous public support and I pay tribute to the many people up and down the country, both young and old, who are very generous with their own money and are involved in a great deal of work fundraising or campaigning to raise the profile of overseas development. The point about the commitment, however, is the stability it offers. Our commitment will enable people to invest in longer-term projects as they will know that the funding will not suddenly be cut from year to year, so that will help significantly in many instances.

Other Members have mentioned the benefits to us of overseas aid, as it increases the trading ability of poorer nations so that they become good trading partners and can lead to money from that budget being spent on equipment manufactured in the UK, but those are not the most important considerations. The most important considerations for most of us are the moral considerations, which mean that this is the right thing to do. That is the will of the British people. The British people want to see this done.

Of course we are right to be concerned about waste and corruption and it is very important that we continue to scrutinise and evaluate how money is spent to ensure that we are spending it in the most effective ways. I know that this is an area that DFID has been working on and I know that we, as Members of Parliament, will continue to keep it under scrutiny.

I pay tribute to the former Secretary of State, Mr Mitchell, for his work on population and family planning. We know how important that is in poorer countries and we would like every family to have the confidence that their children will grow up and survive until adulthood, as that can be powerful in their choosing to have smaller families.

I turn briefly to climate change, which is absolutely crucial, without wanting to open up a whole debate on who is to blame. We have to take responsibility; we are the people who have benefited through our industrial heritage. Given our current consumption patterns, we produce many carbon emissions so have responsibility for climate change. Yet, of course, some of the very poorest countries are most badly affected—whether we think of the floods in Bangladesh or the fact that some sub-Saharan countries are increasingly prone to drought. We need to make every effort to take our responsibilities seriously and help such countries to build resilience with the adaptation and mitigation measures that they need.

Stability was mentioned by several hon. Members. This week I was with the European Scrutiny Committee in Italy, speaking to the Ministers and teams who will be prominent in the Italian presidency of the EU. The Italian Ministers who deal with migrants who come across the Mediterranean were telling us that, in recent years, 80% of them have come from countries with very difficult political and war-torn situations. Our work in stabilising those countries and helping those refugees nearer to their countries of origin is absolutely vital in preventing lives being lost as people struggle to cross the Mediterranean to reach the shores of Italy and the European Union. That forms an important part of the work resulting from overseas development aid.

I want to make a brief reference to the transatlantic trade and investment partnership, in the hope that other Members will realise its importance and take up the debate at a more appropriate moment. I am very concerned that the treaty leaves the door open for large corporations to sue Governments for introducing measures to protect their citizens, such as when Philip Morris sued the Australian Government on the plain packaging of cigarettes. Such moves could have a significant impact on poor Governments who struggle to introduce health measures in their countries. We need to be aware of that and take the issue up at a more opportune moment.

I look forward to the Bill’s successful passage through all its stages and to seeing it on the statute book before next May.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden 12:47, 12 September 2014

I add my congratulations to Michael Moore on bringing forward this Bill. He and I served in the Cabinet that made the unanimous decision to protect spending not only on overseas aid but on health. I am proud of the fact that, when we came into government in 2010—a very difficult time for this country, when significant savings had to be made in public expenditure—there was a unanimous Cabinet decision to protect expenditure on the world’s poorest people.

I want to draw on that experience to underline the importance of the Bill. The UK is the first ever G8 country to reach the 0.7% target, joining other, smaller countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates. It is significant that we are providing that leadership among the G8 countries.

I want to help some hon. Members understand the long history behind the figure of 0.7%. I have had one or two conversations this week in which hon. Members seemed to think that the 0.7% figure was plucked out of thin air; some have asked why it should not be 0.8%. Interestingly, the United Kingdom played a significant role in selecting the target. As long ago as 1958, the Churches in the United Kingdom first made the recommendation for the 0.7% target. It took until 1970 for the United Nations General Assembly to embrace the target unanimously. As a former Secretary of State who tried, successfully, to secure two United Nations agreements, which not every Member of this House has the opportunity to do, I would like to explain how difficult it is to get 193 nations to agree to do something unanimously. After all, how diverse is our world? It is significant that this unanimity exists on the development assistance agenda.

So it was that a resolution was passed that each economically advanced country would work towards 0.7% of its gross national income. It might sound like an arbitrary figure, but it is not, and it is agreed to by the United Nations. The target has seen some minor changes since it was first established, but the basic principle and the global commitment to it has remained consistent. As a 2010 OECD article states, it

“has been repeatedly re-endorsed at international conferences on aid and development down to the present day”.

It is also significant that development assistance is seen globally as something really special. There is not, for example, a United Nations agreement on what the target for expenditure on defence should be, and it is difficult to imagine that that could be achieved. There was a recent attempt to secure United Nations agreement on what percentage of GNI should be spent on health, but it has not proved possible to secure a unanimous agreement on that expenditure. I invite hon. Members to consider this: development assistance remains quite exceptional as the subject of a unanimous view of all nations on what we should seek to spend to help the world’s poorest people.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

The idea that this is not an arbitrary figure is just a load of old drivel. It started off as 0.7% of GDP and now it is 0.7% of GNI, which is completely different. In fact, the definition of GNI is going to be revised in autumn 2014, which will produce a completely new calculation altogether. Which does my right hon. Friend think it should be—current GNI, future GNI, or the original GDP?

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

I do not believe that the figure is arbitrary. I am not a qualified statistician, but I know that gross national income is an accepted, more accurate measure of how much money a country has coming in. That is internationally accepted as well.

As we have seen, the UK is leading the way by reaching this target. That is a cause to be celebrated, which this Bill does in practical terms by enshrining it in statute. Although we have already reached the target this year, there remain strong arguments for enshrining these principles in law. First, the Bill recognises the significance of the achievements that have been made while simultaneously protecting the principles that underpin it.

Secondly, having the target in law limits the scope for political wrangling over the aid budget in future. That has a number of benefits. As Concern Worldwide has said,

“we won’t have to waste time quibbling over precisely how much to spend any more, and can instead focus on what’s really important: doing the most good with the money.”

Making a similar argument, the coalition of campaigners in the Turn Up Save Lives campaign, which focuses specifically on this Bill, has noted that

“putting our promises to the poorest beyond the day to day debates of party politics means policy-makers can focus on how we continue to improve the quality of aid, instead of having an annual debate on whether or not we intend to stick to our commitments.”

Opponents of aid targets in general sometimes argue that they are problematic because they encourage a focus on the level of aid rather than its effectiveness. That is a very important point, but focusing on the effectiveness of aid rather than its level is precisely what this Bills seeks to enable future Governments to be free to do. With the level of aid safeguarded in law, future Governments would be in a position to focus on getting value for money and using the aid in the most effective way possible. A further benefit of an aid target is that it gives a degree of predictability to the recipient countries. That enables them to plan more effectively for the long term, which, in turn, is likely to increase the effectiveness of any assistance. It encourages aid recipients to plan ahead far more effectively, which has led the poverty charity Results to comment:

“Having 0.7% fixed in legislation…means increasing the predictability of UK aid…bringing forward the day when those countries will become self-reliant”,

which is what we all want to see. The benefit is not restrictive, meaning that the aid budget is still responsive to our domestic fortunes. That is a really important point. The aid budget would be fixed at a percentage, but not at an absolute amount, allowing for adjustments in accordance with how the British economy is doing.

As Nia Griffith asserted, there is significant public support for this Bill and that must be taken into account.


Caroline Spelman, as Concern Worldwide said : "we won’t have to waste time quibbling over precisely how much to spend any more, and can instead focus on what’s really important: doing the most good with the money.”
And this is just a question of multiple billions of POUNDS which is seemingly of little consequemce regarding the amount and to whom whereas the ex-pat pensioners could get their rightful indexed pension given the will and honesty of the members who qulbble over 590 million POUNDS without giving due credit for the real saving that they make and the cost of implementing the discriminative policy both of which have been sidestepped by the DWP.
Why ?
You must all look at your position about the morality of this.

Submitted by George Morley

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

They need to get out more.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

I hear a challenge from beside me about where that is substantiated. For the record, according to the 2012 ComRes survey, 61% of adults supported the increases in overseas development assistance spending that enabled the Government to meet their 0.7%. Indeed, a third of those thought that 0.7% was too low. It is clear that the Bill has widespread support among the public and the third sector. The Turn Up Save Lives campaign is backed by 40 groups, including Oxfam, UNICEF, Tearfund, Christian Aid and Islamic Relief, to name but a few. I join the former Secretary of State for International Development, my right hon. Friend Mr Mitchell, in applauding the work of those aid agencies working in some of the most difficult circumstances, particularly where their own lives are threatened, as we have seen this summer with hostage taking in centres of conflict.

Some would ask: why should we give aid at all? Some Members will undoubtedly question giving 0.7% of our GNI, but DFID’s budget for this financial year is about £13 billion, which equates to about 1.6p in every pound in the United Kingdom. According to Tearfund, of which I remind the House I am a vice-president, that figure is also less than the amount we spend on takeaway food in this country every year. It sometimes helps to bring percentages of GNI down to an incredibly practical level, so next time hon. Members order a takeaway, I ask them please to remember that our average spend on takeaways is more than we spend on overseas aid.

There is also an absolute moral argument that I do not think we can get away from. Given the recovery of our economy, there is some dispute about whether we are the world’s seventh richest nation or whether we are rising up to be the sixth richest nation. Sixth or seventh, we are among the richest nations in the world and I believe that means there is an absolute moral requirement on us to help the world’s poorest. As the Archbishop of Canterbury has said, critics of aid all too frequently

“ignore the transformative impact that aid can and does have in fragile countries struggling to meet basic human needs”.

The Turn Up Save Lives campaign points to the recent example of the civil war in Syria, where the combination of Government aid and contributions from the British public have enabled more than 1 million children to be reached with blankets and other supplies. Such figures provide a mere insight into some of the ways in which aid is having a transformative effect on people’s lives.

On a visit to Bangladesh earlier this year, I saw flood resilience that had been built through the capacity building of an aid agency, which gave me the idea that some of our own flood-affected communities at home could have done with such simple capacity building. I shall never forget visiting the huts of women in rural Bangladesh who were not able to read or write, but who, as a result of capacity building, had been taught how to generate an income for their village. As a result, they had built latrines in the village and had enough money to put solar panels on the roofs of the huts to provide internal lighting. As those women told me, with a real sense of empowerment in their eyes, “Maybe we can’t read and write, but some of our daughters are now able to go to university because they are able to study, even in the hours of darkness.”

If anybody in the House is still in doubt about the transformative nature of development assistance and about the way in which it creates not dependency but sustainability, I for one would be somewhat surprised. In the words of the former managing director of the World Bank, the current Finance Minister of Nigeria:

“Aid can be a facilitator. That is all aid can be. Aid cannot solve our problems. I’m firmly convinced about that. But it can be catalytic.”

I agree that the Bill will be a catalyst.


Question - were those adults who supported increases in overseas development assistance - some 61% - aware that 4% of UK pensioners world wide are discriminated against and do not receive the full index linked pension, having contributed on the same terms as the other 96% who do?
Question - does not the government recognise that while overseas aid is a necessary and desirable requirement that treating one's own citizens equally, fairly and justly should take priority? Especially when such overseas support is not properly accounted for, is spent on none developmental projects and, in the case of one country, has been described as "unwanted peanuts"?
Question - how can it be deemed right that a person who retired ın 1982 on a full state retirement pension after a lifetimes work in the UK and now over ninety years of age still only gets GBP28.50 per week pension and not the GBP 113.10 per week she should - and simply because she does not live in the UK, an EEA country or, for example, Israel, the Philippines or USA but in the Commonwealth country - one of our family - called Canada?

It cannot be right. It is not right. The government knows it but, sadly, the government does nothing about it.

Submitted by Andy Robertson-Fox

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Treasury)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I ask whether it is appropriate for the House to reflect on the sad news of the death of Lord Bannside, who served in this House for so many years, with such character and colour, as the Rev. Ian Paisley? Hon. Members will know that, belonging to a different party, I had many differences over the years with Ian Paisley and with his views and stances. However, in all the dealings I and everybody else had with him, he was a man of considerable personal grace. He was also someone who, in spite of the fact that he opposed agreements and institutions, actually came to a position where he helped to ensure that we have a settled process, and even more agreement on those arrangements and institutions. I know that the members of his own party—the party he founded—are, unfortunately, not able to be here today. I want to express my condolences to them. Because the House is going into recess, we will not have the normal opportunity that may have arisen for hon. Members to pay their respects. I do not wish to interrupt or impede the important debate on the Bill of Michael Moore, and if there is one thing I know about Ian Paisley, in terms of his sympathetic world view, it is that he would not wish the Bill to be impeded by how the House responds to this sad news.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising the point of order and for bringing this very sad news to the House. The death of Lord Bannside—known in this House for many years as the hon. Member for North Antrim, the Rev. Ian Paisley—will be a great loss to Parliament and to the political body as a whole. He was a man of great principle: a big parliamentary personality in every way. He was always kind, and always ready with a witty and amusing word to lighten a dark hour. He will be greatly missed in this House, in the other place and generally. I am sure that the House will wish to give its sympathy and thoughts to his son, Ian Paisley, and the rest of the Paisley family.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

Further to that point of order. May I briefly put on the record Her Majesty’s Government’s tribute to the reverend doctor? He was absolutely critical to the peace process in Northern Ireland, and the House and the nation will be grateful to him for the role that he played in it. Our thoughts will undoubtedly be with Ian Paisley on the loss that his family have suffered. The doctor was a big personality, with a formidable public persona, but as you have said, Madam Deputy Speaker, those who knew him in the House, will have known a very different man, who was kind and gentle. I am confident that there will be many in the House who will kneel down this evening and will say, “Lord Jesus Christ, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom, remember Thy servant Ian. Amen.”

Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Shadow Minister (International Development)

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Opposition are saddened by the loss of Lord Bannside, the former Member of Parliament for North Antrim. My colleagues and I support most deeply the words of Mark Durkan and the Minister. Our thoughts are with Lord Bannside’s family. We send them our deepest sympathies, most particularly his son, Ian Paisley.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Chair, International Development Committee, Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats, Chair, International Development Committee

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I join in the tributes and recognition? Ian Paisley was one of those larger-than-life characters that this House has been proud to embrace. He never had any difficulty making his voice heard. Before the microphones came in, he showed that he did not even need one. Mark Durkan is right that he will be remembered as a different man in private from the one he appeared in public. He was a man with a great sense of humour and great charm, which I think will surprise many people. He also had his principles. In the end, he was able to stand his ground and yet to reach across and help deliver a peace settlement in Ireland, which many thought he would not do. I think that that is the finest tribute to him.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

I thank right hon. and hon. Members for their points of order. It is right that we should spontaneously remember our former colleague Lord Bannside and send our very best wishes and great sympathy to his family.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley 1:06, 12 September 2014

If I may, I would like to start by paying my tribute to Ian Paisley. It was a great privilege that when I made my maiden speech in Parliament, it came after a speech by the great man himself. I have always thought that that was a great honour. I was also very honoured to be invited to Speaker’s House for his 80th birthday celebration. I will always be grateful to him for inviting me. One of my favourite moments was going to his church in Ulster to listen to him giving a sermon. The verve with which he gave a sermon was even greater than that with which he made speeches in this House, if that is possible. I am extremely sorry to hear the news. In the short time that we were both in Parliament, he became a very good friend, along with many of his party colleagues. I send my sympathies to people in Northern Ireland and, in particular, to Ian Paisley and his family. When we say that people will be very deeply missed, it is sometimes an exaggeration, but it certainly is not when we talk about Ian Paisley. As far as I am concerned, he was one of the finest parliamentarians this House has ever seen.

To return to the Bill—thank you for indulging me, Madam Deputy Speaker—this debate has been going for roughly three hours and there has been what might be called one-way traffic, with speeches on the merits of the Bill and the merits of aid more generally. It is only right, given that we are supposed to debate things in this House, that we spend some time listening to the other side of the argument. I hope that those who claim to believe in Parliament and parliamentary debate will not rush to vote for a closure motion to stop the other side of the argument being heard. That would rather demean them and their view of democracy and debate. I just say that in passing.

The Bill raises a number of questions. Does aid actually work? That is a legitimate area for debate. Should we spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid? That is another area of debate. Finally, should that spending be put into law? This Bill is gesture politics of the worst kind. Everybody here is saying why it is so important to spend 0.7% of GNI on aid, although they do not seem to care which definition of GNI is used. We are spending 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid. In fact, we are spending 0.72% of GNI on it. We therefore do not need to put it into law. Even the people who are saying that it is such a wonderful thing must recognise, by the fact that it is already happening, that we do not need a law in order to do it. If Parliament wants to do it, it can quite easily do so, as we have proved in this Parliament.

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative, North East Somerset

Does my hon. Friend share my concern about the constitutional propriety of trying to bind our successors?

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I agree with my hon. Friend, and that is in effect what the Bill is trying to do.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I am not going to give way. We have heard so much from people in favour of the Bill, and now we are going to hear from people who have a more sensible opinion. The hon. Gentleman can keep raising his hand, but I am not going to give way.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Liberal Democrat, Cheltenham

I am trying to tell you why we are not binding the hands of our successors.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

We heard that in an intervention from one of the hon. Gentleman’s colleagues, who said that his whole intention in supporting the Bill was to ensure that future Parliaments did not change the law. The cat has already been let out of the bag.

It was rather galling to see Mr Brown lecture the House on how we should not be breaking our promises. The man who promised a referendum on the Lisbon treaty and who shamefully and shamelessly avoided that promise has absolutely no right to come here and lecture the rest of us. [Interruption.] As my hon. Friend Jacob Rees-Mogg says from a sedentary position, the right hon. Gentleman promised us that he had ended boom and bust. He made that solemn promise on many occasions to the House.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is the custom of this House when a Member intends to mention another Member that they give notice. May I ask you, Madam Deputy Speaker, whether the hon. Gentleman has given such notice to my right hon. Friend Mr Brown?

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that point of order. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman who currently has the Floor, Mr Philip Davies, will make it clear that he has.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

What I will make clear is that unlike the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, who started the debate and then cleared off, I have been sitting here for the whole debate, so I am not sure how on earth you, Madam Deputy Speaker, or Mr Clarke, would expect me to have given him notice.

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative, North East Somerset

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, I understand that the purpose of that rule is to deal with a premeditated intention to embarrass a Member, not if the point under consideration is something that has arisen in the course of the debate.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for pre-empting what I was about to say. I am sure that Philip Davies will apologise if he has inadvertently made a mistake, or if he wishes to explain why he has made those points.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I assure you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I am apologising for nothing.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. If I suggest that it might be in order for the hon. Gentleman to apologise, that is to keep good order in this place and to observe courtesies between Members. There should never be a situation where Members feel that a discourtesy has been made. I am certain that the hon. Gentleman meant no discourtesy, and I am sure he will say so.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I confirm that I certainly meant no discourtesy, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I stand by everything I said. I think I agreed with about 0.7% of what the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said in his speech.

At some point, when you allow, Madam Deputy Speaker, Members on the Government Benches will no doubt be invited to support the closure of this debate. I want them to know exactly what they will be doing. Ultimately, they will be answerable to voters in their constituencies in the not-too-distant future. By allowing this Bill to go into Committee and to make progress, Members are basically signalling the death knell of the EU (Referendum) Bill promoted by my hon. Friend Robert Neill. At some point, all my hon. Friends will have to explain to their electorate, and to other candidates in that election, why they feel that this Bill is more important than that Bill. I do not believe it is, particularly given that the spending on aid is being achieved at the moment anyway. They will have to explain that, and I hope they feel relaxed about doing so. Many of my hon. Friends present—virtually all of them—are in safe seats, which seems to me probably no coincidence. However, I hope they will explain their actions to colleagues in less favourable circumstances, and I hope they know that that is what they will be doing when they go into the Lobby later today.

I am not surprised that the Liberal Democrats or the Labour party support the Bill. They are perfectly entitled to do so as it matches their philosophy. In a socialist philosophy, which Labour and the Liberal Democrats share, what is important is not outputs, but inputs.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I will not give way. We have heard so much drivel from people with a different opinion from me. I am trying to get some balance into the debate.

When Labour Members argue that we should be judged only on how much money we spend, it does not come as a great surprise, because that is what Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians have always argued for. I remember in the last Parliament asking why truancy under the then Labour Government was so terrible, and the Minister’s answer was: “We’ve spent £1 billion extra tackling truancy”, as if that was fine. Truancy had got worse, but that did not matter because they had spent £1 billion extra on tackling it. It struck me then as even more criminal than ever. They had spent £1 billion and truancy had still got worse. If they had said, “We’ve saved a bit of money and it’s got a bit worse”, that might have been some justification, but for it to get worse and to proudly boast, “That’s all right because we spent £1 billion extra”, is complete nonsense. So of course Labour and the Liberal Democrats believe in the Bill.

What I cannot understand in my heart is how any self-respecting person who wants to call themselves a Conservative can possibly subscribe to the view that we should be judged simply on a piece of legislation that sets out only how much we are to spend, and that it is irrelevant what we do with the money or whether we can afford it. Those should be the things a Conservative thinks about, but many of my colleagues seem to want to abandon their Conservative principles. I should perhaps be reassured that had the Government taken my view, most of my hon. Friends would be arguing the opposite of what they have been arguing today. They might be supporting this policy not through sincere belief but because of their desire for advancement. I do not know whether they believe in the Bill. In many respects, I hope they support it because they think it will help their advancement, because if they genuinely believe in it, I do not see how they can call themselves Conservatives in any shape or form.

There seems to be a view—a politically correct attack to close down debate—that runs simply: either a person is for international aid and therefore in favour of the Bill, or they are against international aid and therefore oppose the Bill. It is an all-or-nothing argument. If someone criticises Britain’s huge, often mismanaged aid budget, they are accused of not wanting to help the neediest in the world. It is designed to cover up mistakes in the overseas aid budget and ignore shortfalls. This politically correct campaign has allowed international aid to linger as such an inefficient part of Government spending, without sufficient checks or proper rigour.

I believe that humanitarian aid is very important. It provides relief for people who suffer from acute distress following conflict, famine, natural disasters and other emergencies. That work is vital. This country has always stepped up to its responsibilities, and I have no doubt it will always do so, when it sees images around the world of tragedies taking place. However, I am sceptical about the aid that dominates more than nine tenths of official aid spending—development aid. It is the predominance of this aid spending that we are mainly focusing on here. This aid offers continuous support to recipient countries in the areas of education, health, water and sanitation, government and civil society, economic infrastructure, economic production, debt relief and other things across many different Departments.

We have to consider the country’s financial position. Thanks to considerable overspends over many years by the Labour party, we have a huge debt mountain, and scandalously our debt payments are still as big as the budget of one of the biggest Departments. I hope that the right hon. Member for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill will allow me to say that, because of the disastrous way in which the former Chancellor and previous Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, ran this country, it seems that he was determined to make us a recipient of international aid rather than a contributor to it.

At a time of national austerity, it seems to me sensible that we would want to reduce the aid spending given to other countries. It would not have been a bad thing even to have frozen aid spending to other countries, but to increase it massively, as we have done, at the same time as we are making the case that we have no money and have to cut spending everywhere and cut our cloth accordingly, is completely and utterly ridiculous.

Photo of Stewart Jackson Stewart Jackson Conservative, Peterborough

Would our constituents be right in asking this pertinent question: why is it appropriate for the Government to seek to hypothecate into the future for future Parliaments on this area of expenditure when in every other domestic area, including important areas such as literacy, social care and cancer, they set their face against such hypothecation? Is that not a reasonable question?

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I personally think that if my constituents were asked for what area it was more important to guarantee a certain level of expenditure—the NHS or overseas aid; the defence budget or overseas aid; the police budget or overseas aid; the education budget or overseas aid?—the overseas aid budget would come off second best in any head-to-head contest. Lord only knows why on earth people in this place think that the public believe uniquely that this particular Government Department should have its funding increased massively and then protected at that level. To be perfectly honest, I think they all need to get out more.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I am not giving way to the hon. Lady.

We are not even spending taxpayers’ money. We keep on talking about how important it is to spend taxpayers’ money wisely, but we are not spending that money. We do not have any money. When will people understand that even now we are borrowing? Even after the Chancellor’s welcome measures, we are still borrowing £100 billion a year. We are not in a position to spend 0.7% of our GNI on overseas aid, because it is actually much more than that. What we are doing is borrowing money from other countries, paying interest on it to then hand it over to other countries. At the start of this Parliament, we were in the ludicrous situation of borrowing huge sums of money from China in order to give China overseas aid to help that country to get along. It could hardly be made up. No wonder most of my constituents think that the people here are round the bend.

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative, North East Somerset

We are, in effect, spending the money of taxpayers as yet unborn.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

My hon. Friend is absolutely right.

Are we going to take into account the debt interest that we will have to incur on the money we are spending on overseas aid? Is that going to be taken into account as part of the 0.7%, or is that on top of the 0.7% that we are actually handing over? As I made clear in my intervention on my right hon. Friend Mrs Spelman, the idea that we even know what we are spending is a complete nonsense as well, because the goalposts are always moving. It was first supposed to be 0.7% of GDP; now we are told it is 0.7% of GNI; and in the autumn of this year, apparently, how GNI is calculated is going to be changed, which will mean an upward revision to GNI, making our aid as a proportion of GNI lower so that we will have to spend even more on overseas aid to hit our 0.7% target.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

No, I will not.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden provided some of the history. I recommend the 6th report of the Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs for the Session 2010 to 2012, which was a marvellous report on the effectiveness of overseas aid. This all dates back to the UN General Assembly of 1970. The idea that this target is somehow well thought through and relevant to today’s needs and environment is complete and utter nonsense. The target was first plucked out of the air 44 years ago. The idea that it is likely to be the right one to use now is for the birds. It is completely nonsensical to think that the right target in 1970 automatically must be the right target in 2014, when the world is so different.

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North

Will my hon. Friend confirm that when that motion was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, the aim was for countries to exert their best efforts to achieve the 0.7% target by the middle of the 1970s, not by the middle of the 2010s?

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The original target is completely out of date. Indeed, I note in passing that if this matter is so important for the Labour party and vital for the future of the world, it is interesting that the attendance on their Benches is a bit thin. I think I have seen about 20 Labour Members come in the Chamber to support the measure. Perhaps they might want to explain why that is.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Chair, Public Accounts Commission, Chair, Public Accounts Commission

Is not the most important point that if we fix a Department’s budget as a proportion of the nation’s income, we grossly distort the actions of that Department? Departments should spend what they can afford on what they want to do within the limits of what is in the national interest. This measure would be grossly distorting and un-Conservative.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Let us just imagine what would happen if the Government intended to support a particular project somewhere, but found towards the end of the financial year that it was rife with corruption and therefore thought it best not to spend money on it. They would not be able to do that. The Government would not be allowed to say, “We’ll keep the money and not spend it,” but would be forced, at the last minute, to spend it, because Parliament had insisted that it had to be spent, come what may. How on earth is that a sensible way to ask a Department to act?

We heard the idea that if we did this and set the lead, all other countries would follow. We hear it time and again in different contexts. CND started this in the 1980s—“If we get rid of all our nuclear weapons, every other country in the world will follow.” We all knew—even the Labour party came to realise—that that was a load of old nonsense. Then we started hearing it on climate change—“If we hit our climate change targets and do all this, every other country in the world will follow”—but that has been proved to be a load of cobblers as well. All the big people churning out all the carbon emissions are doing absolutely nothing to curb them, apart from welcoming our industry to their countries, but still we hear it, even though it has been proved wrong time after time—“If we do this, every other country will follow.”

What has actually happened in practice? While we have been ramping up the proportion that we spend on overseas aid, similar countries in the developed world have been reducing the amount they spend as a percentage of their GNI. Why have they done that? There are two possible explanations. The first is that they actually have some sense and realise that if they cannot afford to spend the money, they would have to spend less on something that is a discretionary spend—something that we might consider doing at some point.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I will not.

Those countries have probably also thought, “Well, this is marvellous. We don’t need to worry about spending a bit less, because the United Kingdom is taking the strain. They can do all the heavy lifting. They’re spending so much more, so we can reduce our spending.”

Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Conservative, Aldershot

My hon. Friend is making a powerful speech—[Interruption]—in which I can see hon. and right hon. Members are most interested. As the Select Committee on International Development has pointed out, because there were not the projects in which the British taxpayer could invest, one of the consequences of ramping up overseas aid by £4 billion over four years was that much of the money went to international aid agencies, which then administered it on behalf of the British taxpayer. However, as the Committee found, they were not as rigorous in ensuring value for money as our Department was.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

My hon. Friend is absolutely right.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether you could provide some guidance. Is it not the practice and the courtesy of the House for Members to give way to Front Benchers who wish to intervene? The hon. Gentleman does not seem to want to let anybody on the Opposition Benches intervene and there is a Front Bencher indicating—[Interruption.]

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. I do not need to be told whether it is a point of order, thank you very much. The hon. Gentleman is making a reasonable point, but I will answer him by saying that it is up to the person who has the floor whether he wishes to take an intervention and from where. It is up to each Member to decide the extent to which they wish to engage in debate.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. As I said at the start, we have had three hours of speeches from Members in favour of this Bill and I think the public and this House deserve to hear the viewpoint of people who do not support it. They have had plenty of time to make their case; it was just a pretty poor one.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

No, I will not.

The other point I want to make is that we ought to bear in mind the money that is spent versus gifts in kind. We as a country should be encouraging people to give money privately. Private money that is spent, where people raise money for particular causes, should be taken off the amount that is spent by the Government. There are lots of people who raise money for very good causes around the world.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

No, I will not.

I can mention two organisations in my constituency in that regard: Mpika Relief Fund does a fantastic amount of work helping people in Africa, and there is one in Burley-in-Wharfedale that does a similar job. They raise money for very worthwhile causes. I very much support what they do; I have even made donations to them in the past. What they spend their money on is much more worthwhile than these grandiose schemes that the Government come up with, where Ministers like to go out and say how wonderful they are because they are indulging their largesse everywhere. I prefer the smaller schemes that are run bottom-up from organisations like the ones in my constituency.

It might even be a good idea for the Government to offer tax relief for people who want to go out to other countries to help with particular projects. I would welcome that.

Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford

It might help my hon. Friend to know that, actually, the gift aid from those kinds of donations is included within the 0.7% we are talking about, so that is happening at the moment.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

My hon. Friend is missing my point. I am not talking about gift aid on donations. I am talking about tax relief to help assist people who want to go out and do something practical themselves—who want to give up their job for a while to do something worthwhile. That would be a much more valuable and worthwhile thing for the Government to do than simply flex their muscles on how much they spend.

Because I am feeling in a generous mood, Madam Deputy Speaker, I will give way to Alison McGovern, seeing as she is so excitable about intervening.

Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Shadow Minister (International Development)

That must be one of the more curious attempts I have made to intervene on the hon. Gentleman. I cannot quite work out why he has allowed me to intervene now, but as he has, perhaps I might ask him, first, if he will congratulate the last Labour Government on their actions on gift aid and recognise the impact it has had, as has been pointed out. Also, is his argument really that there is no place at all for leadership on this issue from the UK Government, never mind what other countries do? Is it correct that he believes we have no moral leadership role at all?

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

Clearly the hon. Lady has not listened to a word I said. At the very start I said that I support the Government’s humanitarian aid, and I am in favour of tax relief—I am always in favour of anything that reduces the burden of taxation on people.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

No, I am not giving way again. The last intervention was so poor that I do not think it justifies another one.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden mentioned opinion polls and public support for these things. A YouGov-Cambridge poll in 2011 made clear the public’s opinion. The following question was asked:

“Along with spending on the NHS, the international aid budget is the only area of government spending that is not facing cuts. The government has promised to increase this budget by one third to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) in line with international agreements signed previously. Generally speaking, how favourable or unfavourable are you towards this policy?”

Some 56% of those asked were unfavourable, and only 9% considered themselves to be very favourable to it.

When asked if they would support or oppose a freeze on spending on international development—at the level as it was then in 2011—69% of people said they supported a freeze. Also, 69% of respondents said international aid fails to reach ordinary people in the developing world and is wasted by corrupt Governments; 49% believed international aid enhances the power of bad Governments in developing countries; and 55% thought it discourages Governments in developing countries from spending money on their own people.

Those statistics mirror the feedback that I get from my constituents when we talk about spending on overseas aid. They understand the fact that this country has no money, that we are borrowing and spending way beyond our means and that we have to tighten our belts. They therefore find it extraordinary that we are spending about £4 billion a year more on overseas aid than we were in 2010. That is completely nonsensical and unjustifiable.

The Bill proves that overseas aid does not work. I remember going to see my right hon. Friend Mr Mitchell to discuss these issues a few years ago. I told him that I would have more sympathy for overseas aid if he adopted a policy in which we considered the situation in every country individually and decided how we could help it to better itself by establishing a programme that would last for a certain number of years, after which we would expect it to have sorted out its governance and corruption. After that point, our assistance would eventually tail off and the country would stand on its own two feet and head off into the future.

If that were the Government’s policy on overseas aid, I would have some sympathy for it. I would want to scrutinise it, of course, but it seems pretty reasonable. However, the Bill does not propose that we do that; it proposes the exact opposite. It says that we are going to spend the same amount of money every single year in perpetuity. That is basically an acceptance that our assistance will fail, that it will not turn around a country’s fortunes or deal with the causes of poverty, and that it will just be a hand-out to make a few middle-class, Guardian-reading, sandal-wearing, lentil-eating do-gooders with a misguided guilt complex feel better about themselves. It will do nothing to alleviate the real causes of poverty in those countries.

We know that the current system does not work. We have been pouring tens of billions of pounds a year into Africa, year in, year out. How much further forward is

Africa today, compared with when we started pouring in those tens of billions of pounds? It is barely any further forward at all—

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. The hon. Lady will not shout across the Chamber, no matter how much noise Philip Davies is making.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I always feel that I must be doing something right if I manage to wind up Opposition Members who hold idiotic views. It will be time for people on my side to worry when the Opposition start to agree with what they are saying. That should tell them that they are on the wrong side of the argument.

We know that the present policy is not working because the countries in question have not developed as much as they should have done. The question that I would pose to everyone is this: what do they think are the root causes of poverty in some of those countries in Africa? Is it that those countries are not getting enough aid? Does anybody really think that that would get to the root cause of the problem? Or is it perhaps that those countries have terrible governance and that the rule of law means nothing there? Could it be that outside companies will not invest in those countries, even though such investment would create wealth and prosperity, because they could have all their assets confiscated within a few weeks or months? We need to sort out all those factors if we want to sort out the problems in Africa, rather than simply handing over an ever-larger cheque every year and thinking that that will sort out all the problems of the developing world. It is idiotic and simplistic to think that that will work. Let us deal with the root causes and tell those countries that they need to get themselves sorted out—

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I will not give way.

The reason that people want to invest in this country is that the rule of law is important to us. That is what we need to export to those other countries. We do not need to export cheques; that really does not work.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley

As someone who rarely wears sandals and never reads The Guardian, but who nevertheless believes it possible to multi-task, may I suggest that it is possible to feed people, educate people and deal with governance problems all at the same time? They are not sequential.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

Well, it appears to have been beyond us. While we have been handing over all these cheques, in an increasing amount, year in, year out, those governance issues are still there. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can explain how well the £138 million or thereabouts—I am quoting from memory, so I may not be exactly right about the figure—that went to Zimbabwe last year is going in terms of governance? It does not seem to me to be hitting the mark in improving the future of that country.

Photo of Margot James Margot James Conservative, Stourbridge

If I had had time to make a speech—I now will not—I would have pointed out that I observed many examples in Africa in the 10 years I was involved in development before I came to this place where the money spent by this country and other donor countries has made a remarkable difference. Such examples can be found in Uganda, Nigeria and Botswana—there are many of these places. May I conclude my intervention by saying that some of these countries are so vulnerable, having had to deal with the Ebola virus, terrorism and so on, and they do not have the infrastructure that we are so lucky to have in the west? Could my hon. Friend not give some consideration to those points in his speech?

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her intervention. I do not doubt that she is taken to all the successful programmes there have been, but I wonder whether she was taken to the following one. I wonder whether she was taken to Kenya. Forget about poverty and all this kind of thing, because apparently the most important priority in Kenya is graffiti. We gave to a £6.7 million aid project called Making All Voices Count, which pays for political graffiti in Nairobi. The spray murals are said to be useful as they

“engage with artists to spread data-based information in slums in order to empower citizens to make data-driven arguments”.

They are, apparently, also justified because they target police corruption through awareness. You couldn’t make it up: we are literally spraying money away. With £16.5 million of aid allegedly being stolen by Kenyan Ministers and officials in the past few years, it is nonsensical to suggest that all of this aid budget is going round doing all this good. A load of old nonsense is going on.

Let me talk about a project in Ethiopia. It is not about creating life opportunities through work or educating people. It empowers women through music, and we gave money to the so-called “Ethiopian Spice Girls”, a five-strong girl group called Yegna. That may bring a smile to people’s faces, until we realise that this is part of a bigger programme called the Girl Hub, to which DFID handed over £3.8 million. As a justification for that excessive expenditure the point was made that Ethiopian girls

“faced challenges such as forced marriage, violence, teen pregnancy, and dropping out of school”.

Of course they do—we all agree with that—but I think I must be out of touch because I thought the best way of tackling those things was to target those issues; I did not realise that the way to tackle them was to finance a girl group to sing about those problems. You could not make this up, but it is true.

It all goes to show that DFID has so much money that it does not know what to do with it, so it is scratting around for any kind of nonsensical, politically correct project to throw its money away on. But it is not throwing away its own money—this is our money. It is our constituents’ money that DFID is throwing away with gay abandon. It might make DFID feel good, but it does not do a great deal for my constituents who are seeing their money go up in smoke. What I want to know is who in DFID actually sits around a table and says, “I know, I think we should fund the ‘Ethiopian Spice Girls’. I think that is a good use of public money.” We can just imagine the discussion in the Department, where everyone around the table says, “I think that is a marvellous idea.” Does nobody in these Departments say, “Do you not think that’s a crass way to spend taxpayers’ money?” Is nobody there speaking up for taxpayers? I do not believe anybody is. This is just being done to satisfy the egos of politicians; it is not about doing anything to alleviate poverty.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I have been listening carefully to my hon. Friend’s speech. I am concerned that he is conflating those who are opposed to the Bill, as I am, because they think it is bad from a constitutional standpoint with the people who are genuinely opposed to aid. I am strongly in favour of the 0.7% target, but I just do not believe the Bill is the right way to achieve it. I am concerned that he is mixing up being opposed to aid in general with being opposed to the Bill.


Most ex-pat pensioners would agree about overseas aid but only when it can be affordable without reducing the needs and requirements of the British citizens wherever they are. The aid given is far and away higher than others countries which you can say is creditable but no consideration...

Submitted by George Morley Continue reading

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

My hon. Friend has a perfectly legitimate point of view, and I agree with much of it. As he has rightly identified, someone can support 0.7% of the budget going in overseas aid without supporting this Bill, because it already happens. We are supposed to pass laws here because we actually need a law to help something or prevent something that is very bad. He has rightly identified that the Bill is a solution looking for a problem, but I do not agree with him that we should be spending 0.7% of our budget on it. [Hon. Members: “Ah!”] I do not agree with that. I would like to think that I have made that abundantly clear. We cannot afford to spend that. There is no evidence that it is being well spent, so I agree with him.

This Government have made such an effort to stop welfare dependency at home, and I support everything that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has done to try to stop a culture of welfare dependency in this country. People cannot expect to sit and wait for their next handout from the state. How one earth can a Government who have done so much on welfare dependency—[Interruption.]


I hope that you will read my annotation to James Gray, Mr Davies.

Submitted by George Morley

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. The hon. Gentleman is speaking and is in order. I appreciate that he has a great deal to say and that there is a vibrant argument going on, but I point out to him that he has now spoken for 40 minutes, which is twice as long as anyone else in this debate. He has the Floor and has every right to go on speaking, but one must balance rights with responsibilities. He might like to consider courtesy and consideration for his fellow Members who also wish to speak, and have valid points to make this afternoon.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I am, as always, grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for your guidance. As I said at the start, we have had three hours of speeches from Members who are in favour of this Bill. As you have rightly said, I have spoken for 40 minutes in opposition. But I am a generous man, and I always seek to please you in particular. If it will please you, I will seek to draw my remarks to a close, but if you could indulge me for a couple more—[Interruption.] I could speak for a couple more hours. There is so much wrong with this Bill, we could go on for most of the day and most of the night as well.

I just want to make this point about welfare dependency. We have been doing so much to say to people here, “You cannot expect to sit back and wait for money to come to you without doing anything yourself.” In the same breath, DFID is entrenching welfare dependency abroad. Basically, it is saying to countries, “It doesn’t matter what you do with your governance or what you spend your money on; we will keep handing over the cheques come what may.”

Let us take India as an example. Why on earth are we still giving aid to India?

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I will not give way; I am drawing my remarks to a close. India spends $35 billion a year on defence. It is spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on a space programme. It is even developing its own overseas aid programme, yet we are still giving £200 million to it in overseas aid. It is grotesque. I could go on and on about the waste of money that we see in DFID and the fact that it is unjustifiable to keep spending so much money. But I will take your guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker, and draw my remarks to a close.

I just want to remind Members that as Conservatives we should be judging ourselves not on how much we spend, but on how effectively we spend the money and, crucially, on whether or not we can afford to spend the money that we are handing over. We cannot afford to spend all of this money at this moment in time, but that may well change.

I reiterate the point that I made at the beginning—that anybody here today who votes for a closure motion and for this Bill to go into Committee is basically saying that this Bill is more important to them than an EU referendum Bill. They will have to answer to their constituents on that point. I will be able to look my constituents in the eye and say that I did what I thought was right. This Bill is unnecessary. What we need is an EU referendum Bill, which is why I will vote against any closure motion and against this Bill. My colleagues are in danger of falling into the trap set by the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party.

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Neither my hon. Friend Mr Lewis nor I were able to be present in the House when the sad news of the death of Lord Bannside was announced. Is there a mechanism whereby I and my colleague can express our deepest sympathy and sincere condolence to Baroness Paisley of St George’s and to Ian Paisley and record our appreciation for a great parliamentarian who moved from initial controversy to become an absolute colossus of modern politics, one of the most important architects of the peace process and a man who will be greatly missed throughout these islands?

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

The hon. Gentleman has found the mechanism whereby he can rightly pay tribute to a great man. The House has already paid tribute and I reiterate the great sympathy and condolences that the House sends to Baroness Paisley of St George’s and Ian Paisley.

Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton 1:50, 12 September 2014

Britain should rightly be proud of being the first G8 country to reach the internationally agreed target of 0.7% of GNI expenditure on development support for the poorest countries on earth. In one respect—perhaps only one, in this debate—my hon. Friend Philip Davies and I are not that far apart. It is not reaching the target that counts, nor even legislating for it, although I am proud to be a sponsor of this Bill, supported across the parties as it is. What is achieved with UK taxpayers’ money to transform the lives of the poorest people on earth is what really counts.

The point on which I would take issue with my hon. Friend concerns the transformation that our DFID programme is making. It is securing schooling for 11 million children, more than we educate in this country, at 2.5% of the cost. It is providing 43 million with safe drinking water and improved sanitation and vaccinating more children against preventable diseases than there are people in the whole of the UK. Every one of the people helped is an individual: a mother, a father or a child with loved ones and with hopes and dreams just like ours. That was brought home to me many years ago in Tanzania, as was how comparatively rich we are in one of the richest countries on earth. In this country, we spend more on uneaten food that we throw away than our entire aid budget: does that not put into context the words of this debate’s detractors?

On that trip to Tanzania many years ago it was brought home to me that these people are not just statistics but individuals. I was invited to the home of the headmaster of the school that British people are supporting and I was shocked that he, his wife and his five children did not live in a house. They lived in a container, their meagre belongings hung up in plastic bags from hooks on the ceiling. Their furniture was merely a few mattresses, stacked up against the wall during the day to make space, and one chair. They had no bathroom or kitchen; their toilet was a communal latrine and their kitchen a charcoal fire on the edge of the road. He was the headmaster of a school.

I will never forget the lovely smiling face of their 15-year-old son, Sam. My son Sam—my oldest son, as this was their oldest boy—was with me, and he was not quite 15. The difference between that 15-year-old boy and my son is that a short time later that boy was dead. He had died of malaria. There was no treatment available. Addressing such needs—need is the basis of UK aid provision—is, quite simply, morally and compassionately the right thing to do. In an era of huge inequalities across the world and global communication, we cannot say that we do not know of the acute deprivation other people suffer. We cannot pass by on the other side and that is why legislating in this regard is so important.

I believe that as we promote the Bill the majority of UK taxpayers are with us. Younger people certainly are. We need only to consider how generously they respond to disaster relief requests. A child is vaccinated every two seconds through the work of this nation and a child’s life saved every—[Interruption.]

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Liberal Democrat, Cheltenham

I mean no discourtesy to Fiona Bruce, who is making an excellent speech, but I should like to move the closure.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Liberal Democrat, Cheltenham

claimed to move the closure(Standing Order No. 36).

Question put forthwith, That the Question be now put.

The House divided:

Ayes 166, Noes 7.

Division number 51 Flood Protection (West Kent) — International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill

Aye: 166 MPs

No: 7 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name


No: A-Z by last name


Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The House divided:

Ayes 164, Noes 6.

Division number 52 Flood Protection (West Kent) — International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill

Aye: 164 MPs

No: 6 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name


No: A-Z by last name


Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read a Second time; to stand committed to a Public Bill Committee (Standing Order No. 63).