Department for International Development

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:36 pm on 1st July 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 6:36 pm, 1st July 2019

It is a pleasure and a privilege to follow my hon. Friend Mrs Latham, who made an impassioned speech. The three points that she mentioned are well received by all of us who understand the importance and gravity that is attached to each of them.

This has been an incredibly interesting debate for me. I stand to speak not because I claim any particular insight, experience or technical knowledge around the subject, but because what we are doing as a country in relation to expenditure around international development —this is an estimates debate after all—is the right thing for us to be doing.

My hon. Friend Mr Robertson spoke extremely well in introducing the debate. I was educated by the wonderful speech of Stephen Twigg, so I am grateful to him for his contribution. My right hon. Friend Mr Mitchell once again shared his long-term expertise and experience with the Chamber. I also enjoyed the speech from Patrick Grady, and I recognise and respect his experience in this area from long before he came to this place. He reminded us of the Pearson commission, which was quoted by the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby. The House of Commons Library briefing states—remember that this was in 1975—that the Pearson commission

“argued that if this target”—

0.7% of gross national income—

“was met by all rich countries and accompanied by appropriate policies, aid would be unnecessary by the end of the 20th Century.”

Oh, if that were only the case. Imagine if we were now celebrating the ending of aid. However, it is needed now as much as it has ever been.

I am grateful to be able to take a few minutes to celebrate the fact that we have had a cross-party debate and that there is uniform support across the House for our commitment, as a United Kingdom, to the 0.7% target. That this target is enshrined in law, and that we have kept the commitment since 2013, is an expression of our national and collective commitment to playing a full part in helping the poorest people on the planet to get out of the extreme poverty that too many of them still experience and on to a path that leads towards a more prosperous future. Ultimately, I believe that will be a path of enterprise and trade.