International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill — Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:15 pm on 27th February 2015.

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Photo of Lord Lawson of Blaby Lord Lawson of Blaby Conservative 12:15 pm, 27th February 2015

My Lords, I listened very carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, the promoter of this Bill in this House, has said, as well as to my noble friend the Minister, who is no longer in her place. I have to say that neither of them went anywhere near addressing the points that I made.

I am glad to see that my noble friend the Minister is now back to grace us with her presence and hear what I have to say. I was surprised that she mentioned Jim O’Neill in this context. Like the noble Lord, Lord Reid, I know Jim O’Neill well, and at no time has he said —nor would he dream of saying—that the 0.7% target is necessary for human development. The 0.7% target is a great irrelevance. Look around the world at the big countries, the G7 countries. The other six have no intention of meeting that target. The ones who are nearest to it, France and Germany, contribute 0.4%. At the other end of the scale, Italy and United States contribute 0.2%. They have no intention of doing any more. Some of those countries are actually reducing the amount they give, for reasons that we have gone through before, which I shall not repeat now.

Despite the fact that this 1970 United Nations target has been nowhere near achieved, nor does anyone else have any intention of achieving it, there has been enormous development in huge swathes of Asia—India and China, in particular—much of Latin America and, I am glad to say, parts of Africa, although Africa has been somewhat of a laggard in this area. Those improvements have been despite the United Nations target being totally ignored by everybody except the United Kingdom, it seems. That is because of its total irrelevance—the total disconnect between the target and what really happens to the poor people in those countries.

The whole thing is so absurd, I do not wish to detain the House any further, so I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 16A withdrawn.

Amendments 17 to 20 not moved.

Amendment 21

Moved by Lord Forsyth of Drumlean

21: After Clause 2, insert the following new Clause—

“Duties related to defence expenditure

(1) The duties under sections 1 and 2 will not apply in any year following a year in which the expenditure on ODA is greater than 35% of the amount of defence expenditure.

(2) In this section “defence expenditure” has the same meaning as the NATO definition of defence expenditure.”