Government Support for NGOs and Churches in Developing Nations: Covid-19 — [Clive Efford in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 4:29 pm on 25th March 2021.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 4:29 pm, 25th March 2021

Thank you so much, Mr Efford. I thank all Members for their contributions, particularly the Minister, and for their birthday greetings. As I said beforehand to Brendan O’Hara and others, I have got to the stage where I do not count birthdays any more, but I appreciate their thoughts.

The hon. Member for Argyll and Bute referred to hunger, disease, famine, droughts and floods. Pile that upon vulnerable people with covid-19, and we almost have, as he said, a perfect storm. What can we do? He clearly outlined that we need funding for all the NGOs and groups. We have some ideas about that, and I thank him for his contribution.

I thank the shadow spokesperson, Stephen Doughty, who used the words “What does the Lord require of you?” from Micah. I thought that that was lovely. It is good to remember that. He was also right that, if we do not have the resources for the polio vaccines, unfortunately we probably face the potential for lethal diseases in the future. He referred to HIV/AIDS, and he chairs the APPG so well, and we thank him for it. If people fall back into poverty, they become susceptible to all sorts of diseases. He referred to food being more costly, in some parts by 35%. UNICEF referred to the effect on students. All those things combined lead potentially to the perfect storm that was referred to.

I also thank the Minister for his response. He clearly acknowledged the good work of the NGOs and faith groups, and referred to them as essential partners. That is good to know. All three of us who spoke would probably seek a wee bit more detail on the funding. That will become clear over the next few months, but we need to see where that will be. I am also very interested in the Unilever project. Perhaps he could come back to me in writing, and confirm how some of the NGOs and Church groups can work with Unilever to help some of their projects. I think that something can be done for Church groups, faith groups and the NGOs, so I thank him for that.

The Minister also gave a commitment to continue to champion, which to be fair the Government have, freedom of religious belief for all beliefs and respect for all, while addressing hate crime and hate speech. Those are all good things. We need a wee bit more detail on future funding, but I recognise his comments that NGOs and faith groups can be a force for good in the world. They very clearly can.

I thank all hon. Members for their contributions, and I will finish with a biblical quotation: we have been called to be His hands and His feet—to clothe, to feed, to visit and to help. I say to our Government and our Minister that this House will do exactly that.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered Government support for non-governmental organisations and churches in developing nations during the covid-19 pandemic.

Sitting adjourned.