I beg to move,
That this House
has considered the economic effect of vaccinations in developing countries.
It is an enormous privilege to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Evans. I am grateful to have secured time to lead what will probably be a short debate, but I hope a positive and useful one, on a subject on which this Government and successive British Governments of different colours have shown leadership and genuine commitment.
I am delighted to see the Minister in his place. He has had a busy time in Westminster Hall in recent weeks and I almost feel reluctant about dragging him back here again, but I hope he finds the debate useful and enjoyable. I know that I and other hon. Members here today look forward to hearing his usual wisdom and intelligence on such matters during his winding-up speech.
Today, nearly half the world’s population, including 1 billion children, live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty, which means they survive on less than $1.25 a day. We get so used to reading those statistics that it is sometimes easy to forget what the reality means. It means families who go to bed at night hungry, wake up hungry and then go to bed the following night still hungry. It means families where people are incredibly blessed to have access to anything more than a very basic education, if any at all. These are people for whom daily work is repetitive, painful and dangerous, and who certainly cannot afford for themselves or a family member to fall sick.
We know that behind every statistic there is a human being. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die every single day due to poverty. I do not believe that anyone in this House, or the wider British public, finds that acceptable. With many other countries, non-governmental organisations, private individuals and institutions, Britain is committed to working to end that poverty and to tackle the conditions and causes that trap people and whole nations in cycles of poverty.
As a Conservative, I believe strongly that free trade, markets and the rule of law play a powerful role in lifting nations out of poverty, but I also know that they cannot bring an end to some of the deep-rooted factors that perpetuate cycles of poverty around the world. That is why I am hugely supportive of the fact that as a nation, privately and through taxation, we provide large sums of money to fund interventions that seek to establish sustainable long-term solutions in the poorest nations. Britain is a leader in international development not just by virtue of the size of the budgets we make available, but through the expertise we deploy.