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

I am most grateful to the noble Lord, who speaks from experience, and I agree with everything he says. What we spend at the moment on overseas development aid accounts for about a third of the defence budget. All my amendment would do is say, “If you want to increase the overseas aid budget, you can do so, but we have to meet that other target as well”. That seems entirely reasonable and sensible, and I am afraid that the arguments put forward for not linking these two things were thoroughly inadequate. The advocates of the Bill have been hoist by their own petard.

I would just like to pay a small tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Davies, for saying right at the start that he would be consistent, but I was a little disappointed that he suggested that if I divided the House he might not be able to vote for the amendment because of the drafting. That seems to be something that he should be able to overcome. If the House decides to accept the amendment, I shall be quite happy for the Government to come back with new drafting. I am very happy to work with the noble Lord to ensure that we reach agreement on the drafting, just as we have agreed on the principle of maintaining the support for our Armed Forces and ensuring the security of our country.