International Development Bill

On Monday 3rd November, I voted against the money resolution required to progress the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill.

As some of my constituents may be aware from when I have written about this previously, Michael Moore MP, a Liberal Democrat, has tabled a Private Member’s Bill to enshrine in law a commitment to spend 0.7% (£12bn at today’s figures) of gross national income (GNI) on overseas aid.

The Bill passed its second reading and is now proceeding to the committee stages. On Monday 3rd November, there was a motion put to the House to authorise any expenditure incurred under or by virtue of the Act by a Minister of the Crown or Government Department. I was one of seven MPs who voted against this. If this motion had been successfully defeated as I’d hoped, it would not have proceeded any further.

For those who are not already aware of my views on international aid and Michael Moore’s Private Member’s Bill – I don’t believe that having an arbitrary target of 0.7% of GNI is a sensible approach to international aid and I know that 86% of my constituents surveyed on this previously, agree with me. On that basis, I voted against the money resolution required for the Bill to progress. Unfortunately, the money resolution passed. However, please be assured that I will vote against this Bill at its third reading.

I’m not convinced that a £12 billion annual spend proposed in this Bill is affordable especially at a time when we are still spending around £100 billion more than tax revenue generates. There are already suggestions that trying to meet this target results in money being given to projects that are at best marginal and may actually be a complete waste of money.

From the online poll I conducted on this issue, I know that this something that my constituents feel strongly about and so I welcome your views. You can email me about the subject at nigel@nigelmillsmp.com.