I thank the Backbench Business Committee for approving this debate today. I would also like to put on record my thanks to my right hon. Friends the Members for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) and for Witham (Priti Patel) and the Chairman of the Select Committee, Stephen Twigg, for helping me to prepare for this debate; the experience they have and the work they have done is admirable.
I have long had an interest in international development, and I think probably it comes from the fact that I certainly feel very lucky to have been born in this country. I did nothing to deserve to be born in this country. We have food, we have clean water, we have medical services, and we have education, which very many people across the world do not have; in other words, we have the building blocks to be able to progress in our lives and to normally live beyond childhood, while many in the world do not have that opportunity.
I would go as far as to say that my interest in international development and in trying to help the world’s poorest people was one of my main motivations for wanting to enter the House of Commons in the first place, and I have had the privilege of being able to witness the effects of the aid that the United Kingdom has provided. I am aware it goes across the world, but my particular interest has been in Africa and I have the honour of being chairman of the all-party group on Ethiopia and Djibouti. I have been to some very rural areas in Ethiopia as well as the cities and have seen the benefits our aid brings to so very many people.
We should look at the achievements we have made in this country through our official development assistance fund, which is now, I am very proud to say, 0.7% of our gross national income. We have donated more than £77 billion since 2013, when we set that target.