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Budget Resolutions - Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:56 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 6:56 pm, 13th March 2017

I am terribly sorry; I missed the second half of that question. However, if the assertion was that British diplomacy is in any way falling short, let me say this. I believe that in the last few months we have seen an understanding of what the country wants, and a growing warmth towards our objectives, because they are, after all, shared with our European friends and partners.

As I have said, one of the things that are most admired by our colleagues around the table, not just in Brussels but in the United Nations, the G7 and the G20—all the bodies whose meetings I attend—is the fact that, as they realise, our Government have an extraordinary record of giving development aid. As we sit here now, the Department of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development is helping the Pakistani Government to put 6 million girls through school in the Punjab alone. I think everyone appreciates that that is the best way of promoting economic growth, curbing infant mortality and reducing the pressures of a growing population.

We do not spend our aid budget—0.7% of gross national income—just because that is the right thing to do, although surely it is morally the right thing to do. I am not embarrassed to say that it is also the best way of promoting the development of the economies concerned, and thereby spurring the growth of our export markets. In that sense, a global Britain—[Interruption.] I did not think Labour Members would like that, because they are not interested in any policy that is so obviously of economic benefit to the country, but that is one of the reasons we are doing this. I speak as a defender of, and a believer in, globalisation, because millions of British people in our country—tens of millions, indeed—depend for their jobs and their livelihoods on the benign force of global free trade, which in turn requires safe and open shipping lanes, clear rules and effective institutions. None of that can be taken for granted.