Sustainable Development Goals — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:48 pm on 17th September 2015.

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Photo of Lord Chidgey Lord Chidgey Liberal Democrat 1:48 pm, 17th September 2015

My Lords, I thank noble Lords for contributing to the debate. I particularly thank my noble friends Lady Northover, Lady Brinton, Lord

Loomba and Lord Purvis of Tweed for their contributions. I thank the noble Lords, Lord Collins and Lord McConnell, and the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik, for their contributions, together with those of other noble Lords. I also thank and congratulate the Minister the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, on her response to this complex and wide-ranging debate. I feel sure that this will merely be the opening discourse in a continuing debate. I would like to think that today’s debate will become a check-list for progress in the future as time goes by.

In responding to the debate, perhaps I may make two or three points. First, there are those in our society who dismiss the aid and development agenda, saying that there is no point in the SDGs, that nothing has changed and that throwing money at the problem improves nothing. Let me be clear: since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty has more than halved. It would be difficult to convince the more than 1 billion people who have escaped extreme poverty that nothing has changed, and even more difficult to convince the 1.2 billion people who still live on less than £1 a day that no more needs to be done.

With regard to value for money on DfID spending, I am convinced that no other government department requires such intense collaboration with international partners to get the best value for money for the British taxpayer. International development demands international co-operation. DfID goes to great lengths to hold the recipients of UK aid to account and often offers assistance where corruption is known to be an issue, specifically so that it can be avoided. Corruption kills people; it is as simple as that. Perpetrators of these crimes should be brought to justice under international laws applying throughout the EU and the USA. Nevertheless, it is shameful that the City of London is still considered to be the international destination of choice for laundering billions of pounds of untaxed illicit funds from developing countries—funds that should be invested in relieving poverty and saving lives among penniless citizens.

Finally, next week, as many Peers have commented, Presidents and Prime Ministers from 193 countries will meet in New York to agree global goals to end poverty by 2030. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for parliamentarians to take a stand for the future of people and the planet. It is an opportunity to let our leaders know that we are watching them and will hold them to account. I hope that your Lordships will agree.

Motion agreed.