Britain has long been a leading contributor to international aid and many of us are rightly proud of our ongoing commitment to aid and development and believe that we have played an essential role in helping millions of people around the world out of poverty and have brought essential supplies and support to people in disaster zones and conflict zones. Barry has set out his position on committing to the current level of funding and the Labour Party's support for enshrining this commitment in legislation below:
British aid saves and changes lives and it is right that we help the millions of people around the world who are in desperate need as a result of conflict, natural disasters, entrenched poverty and climate change.
The previous Labour Government made real progress on this by trebling overseas aid, helping lift three million people out of poverty a year and by reaching historic agreements on debt reduction with some of the world’s poorest countries. The previous Labour Government also made a firm commitment to enshrine the 0.7% target in law back in 2010.
It is disappointing that more than four years into this Parliament the current Government have not kept their promise to legislate for the 0.7% target and I know that many charities, campaign groups and my Shadow Frontbench colleagues have repeatedly raised this. It is welcome, therefore, that a Private Members Bill – the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill – has been introduced to address this.
I believe this Bill will build on the achievements of the previous Labour Government and help ensure that our commitment to help some of the world’s poorest people continues in the future.
It is also important to remember that making a fixed commitment on the UK’s overseas development budget is not the same as writing a blank cheque. Even a small amount of aid can help save a life, so I believe it is vital there is rigorous accountability and oversight of this spending so that every pound of taxpayers’ money does the maximum amount of good.
It is welcome that there are provisions in this Bill that seek to address this and I hope this will be debated further as the Bill reaches Report stage in the House of Commons on 5th December 2014.