International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill — Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:15 pm on 27th February 2015.

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Photo of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Conservative 1:15 pm, 27th February 2015

My Lords, I am a very humble sort of chap. I have sat here this morning, participated in the debate and have listened to former Cabinet Secretaries, former Permanent Secretaries, former chiefs of staff with great experience in defence, former Secretaries of State and former Treasury Ministers. There is an almost unanimous voice saying, “Look, we support the principle but, actually, the way in which this is being implemented is mistaken”. No doubt the Bill will make its way towards the statute book and people will be able to change it in the future. However, on this matter of the defence of our country, we are in territory that is of fundamental importance.

Having listened to the speeches of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, the noble Lord, Lord West, and, speaking from the opposition Benches, a former Secretary of State for Defence, who has held quite a number of other positions—a vast experience of government—I am very surprised that my noble friend the Minister has not said, “You know what? We need to go back and think about this”. I did not grasp whether she was saying that the Government remain committed to a target of 2% or that they would meet their 2% target this year. I shall happily give way to her if she can clarify what she was saying, because there is a degree of confusion about that.