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 Lord Purvis of Tweed Lord Purvis of Tweed Liberal Democrat 1:00 pm, 27th February 2015

My Lords, if the House will forgive me, I will focus on the specific amendment as it affects the Bill. However, in so doing, I should say that I have respect for, and have been highly impressed by, the quality of this important debate, to which the Minister referred, and its imperative going forward.

I believe that a similar debate is taking place in another place today on the resumed Second Reading of the Defence Expenditure (NATO Target) Bill introduced by Mr Christopher Chope. It will be interesting to see whether Mark Francois, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, responds to that debate. He will no doubt reinforce his opposition to the Bill in the Commons today, and my noble friends may correspond with him to discover his reasons for that.

I do not agree that it is right to peg, under the provisions of the Bill, ODA expenditure with defence expenditure. While I support wholeheartedly the need for proper co-ordination between defence activity and our deployment in the world, as well as the ODA budget, at Second Reading I cited what I hoped the UK to be—a global citizen with our ODA. We are a free citizen in the world because of our Armed Forces and the debt we owe to them. As noble Lords have indicated, they play a critical role in the effective delivery of our aid budgets. However, the amendment would peg ODA expenditure to the defence budget and I therefore do not believe that that is appropriate.

In the context of the Bill and in due recognition of the important points made regarding a wider, separate debate on defence expenditure, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.