Upholding our promise on international aid
The world is in a state of constant change; reshaping economies, new governments forming, but the one constant, the stain on the conscience of the developed world, is poverty.
After succeeding in the private members’ ballot I have decided that my bill will seek to ensure the government’s commitment to enshrine the UK’s spending of 0.7 per cent of gross national income into law is honoured. This pledge was made in the election manifestos of all three parties and the coalition agreement. My bill will also seek to toughen the remit of the independent body established to monitor the effectiveness of aid spending.
Andrew Mitchell has stated that the government bill is drafted and ready to go with the only delay being limited parliamentary time. I am giving the international development secretary the opportunity to do this even offering to use his draft bill as a basis for my own. This will not only reaffirm Britain’s commitment to the world’s poorest but will take party politics out of the debate about aid spending on a long term basis. I want an all party approach; this issue can’t be kicked into the long grass because of ideology or electioneering. Politicians from all sides of the House must realise that by supporting this bill, they support the hope and trust that millions of the worlds poorest have put in Britain to make their lives better.
I have written to Andrew Mitchell and Malcolm Bruce, Lib Dem chair of the international development select committee proposing an all party approach. At the time of writing this article I have received no response but I hope to hold talks with them in the coming days and weeks.
In times of economic hardship for Europe and the world’s wealthiest it is easy to dismiss a commitment on international aid spend, yet these problems pale into insignificance as people in the third world battle for basic survival.
For Labour, putting a commitment to international aid into law is a fulfilment of our values and beliefs, helping those who need help the most. Our party’s history is built on the battles against injustice and until we make commitments backed by action, we will continue to let down those most in need of our assistance.
Imagine an inability to pay for the necessary drugs to help a sick child, or the medicines not available at all, not knowing where your next meal will come from, war torn countries with no basic infrastructure to support communities. The problems are vast, the solutions not easy but we can neither shirk our responsibilities nor shrink from the monumental task before us. The people snared in poverty’s trap can’t afford inaction.
It is right that during a time of hardship, we continue the fight against poverty. I urge the international development secretary to grasp this opportunity and support my bill and fulfill not only a pre-election promise but more importantly a promise to fight and one day eradicate poverty.
Mark Hendrick is the Labour and Cooperative member of parliament for Preston
0.7 per cent, coalition agreement, DfID, international development