UK Foreign Aid Budget

As chair of Conservative Friends of International Development I felt compelled to speak in today’s debate

Yesterday saw us all celebrating her majesty’s 90th birthday and as always, watching and joining in with the celebrations, I felt incredibly proud to be British. To me part of being British is about having compassion and helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves and I am fully supportive that as a country we support those less fortunate overseas with 0.7 of our GDP helping in aid.

I have always believed that this country should be nothing but proud of the work it does to support developing countries, worldwide emergencies and those who are much less fortunate than ourselves. Last year when Ebola broke out in Africa we gave £427million to treat and contain the disease. As the scale of the migrant crisis has continued to grow we have continuously taken steps to react and help the most vulnerable who find themselves at the heart of the situation.

Having visited Rwanda and seen first-hand how a country has managed to start rebuilding itself after such horrors, I have never had any doubt that we should be helping those less fortunate than ourselves.

Having visited Jordan and seen refugees in the camps and in the host communities , having spoken to them about their aspirations to return home to the country they love, I have no doubt that we should be giving hope to those with so little hope.

We are so often blind to the daily challenges so many face around the world, the humanitarian crisis that might not be reported in the news, the underlying problems at the basic roots of nations that mean a quick fix is an impossible task. -

I wholeheartedly agree that we must have a rigorous process in place to ensure that the right money gets to the right places and believe that the Government has the levels of scrutiny in place to ensure this is achieved. It is after all the public’s money that is being spent and we must be able to demonstrate that it is being done so effectively.

All aspects of the spending of the 0.7% are rigorously scrutinised. This is in addition to internal monitoring and evaluation to ensure projects stay on track and deliver value for taxpayers’ money.

We must also remember that the UKs aid budget is without doubt one of the most transparent in the world. We have taken steps to ensure that tax payers know exactly how their money is spent and what it is spent on - highlighted by the UK Aid Transparency Guarantee set up in 2010.

Economic growth is undoubtedly the best way of driving people’s incomes and reducing poverty in the developing world. The private sector has a vital part to play in generating and sustaining economic growth, as it creates jobs and opportunities for poor men and women to support their families and build more stable futures. It is fast becoming a key priority of our International Development programme and in the long-term could result in less investment being required in many nations.

I want to conclude by saying that as a nation we have never shied away from helping those who need it most. There is so much fantastic work that we do on a daily basis.

 

I said at the beginning that I was proud to be British and I am. I am proud that we lead the way in aid, to those who need it most, proud that we enrich people’s lives and that we save people’s lives. I can’t support anything that detracts from this and in fact I am amazed that anyone would want to. A life is to be valued wherever you live in the world and I fully support that we help and developed those who are unable to do this for themselves.