International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill — Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:00 pm on 27th February 2015.

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Photo of Baroness Northover Baroness Northover Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development 1:00 pm, 27th February 2015

My Lords, I thank the noble Lords for tabling this amendment, and I agree that both the ODA target and the level of defence spend are very important issues. Once again, reflecting this House, we have had a profoundly well informed debate on this amendment, with the participation of, I reckoned: a Chief of the Air Staff—later Chief of the Defence Staff—a First Sea Lord, a former Secretary of State for Defence, and so on. Where else but here? This has also been extremely thoughtful and well argued.

However, to tie one set of spending to the other would not do justice, in our view, to the intention behind the Bill, which aims to increase the predictability of the aid budget and consolidate the United Kingdom’s position as a leader in international development. I understand the noble Lords’ concern to ensure that the defence budget is adequate for the task at hand. They will know that the United Kingdom has the second largest defence budget in NATO and the largest in Europe, and that the Government are committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence. I absolutely hear what noble Lords have said about the importance of the defence of the realm. However, I am afraid that, while I respect the views expressed by noble Lords today, I cannot agree that this amendment belongs in the Bill.