Yemen: Aid Funding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:38 pm on 2nd March 2021.

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Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 12:38 pm, 2nd March 2021

Our aid budget, our ODA spend, is incredibly important. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has made it clear that, this year, that figure will remain at £10 billion. That £10 billion represents one of the largest aid budgets in both absolute terms and relative terms in the globe. The hon. Member speaks about the change from 0.7% to 0.5%. I remind the House that Labour politicians have been talking about 0.7% of GNI as an ODA budget for decades, yet they never once got near it. Even in years of benign economic circumstances, they never went above 0.51%. Under Conservative Prime Ministers, this country has spent 0.7% consistently, and we have done so even in difficult economic circumstances. As I am sure the Chancellor will outline tomorrow in the Budget, we are now presented with a unique set of economic circumstances that are unprecedented in our lifetime, representing a constriction of the UK economy unseen in centuries. And yet, against that backdrop, we maintain a commitment to spend £10 billion on the international stage.

Money is not the only thing that the UK can deploy in support of the people of Yemen. I outlined in departmental questions the work that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has done at the international level to bring about change in the UN Security Council. I spoke yesterday with Martin Griffiths, the UN special representative, about the diplomatic efforts the UK can bring to bear to bring about the end of the conflict, because that is the precursor to a truly sustainable improvement in the situation. That is why we condemn the continued attacks by the Houthis and those who support them. That is why we have sanctioned senior Houthi leaders for the use of sexual violence as a tool of war, and that is why we will continue working bilaterally and internationally to bring about a conclusion to this terrible conflict.