International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill — Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:00 pm on 27th February 2015.

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Photo of Lord Butler of Brockwell Lord Butler of Brockwell Crossbench 2:00 pm, 27th February 2015

My Lords, the House will be relieved to know that I can move this amendment very briefly because the point is a very simple one. The Bill does not apply to the present Government; its only purpose, as I said earlier, is to bind future Governments. It will be noted that the Bill comes into effect on 1 June, and that date will not be lost on the House. The point of the amendment is that it seems wrong that a future Government should not have the chance to decide whether they wish to implement the Bill. I am not saying that it is constitutionally wrong—any Parliament can of course pass a law that binds the next Government—but I am saying that, so close to the election, to move a Bill that binds the next Government without giving them a chance to say whether they want to accept and implement it is wrong.

I noted that the Minister ducked a question earlier about whether the next Government would continue the 2% pledge by saying that the new Government will take a decision. If the new Government can take a decision on that, surely they ought to have the right to take a decision on this. It may be said, “That’s all right because the Labour Party supports this too so, whichever Government are in power, they support the Bill”. Frankly, the polls tell us that we do not know quite what the nature of the next Government will be or what situation they may face. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the Bill does not come into effect on 1 June but at such time after that date as the new Government should decide and to bring it into effect by regulation. I beg to move.