‘Keep our commitment to the poorest countries’
Politics: Rugby and Bulkington MP Mark Pawsey wants the Government to restore its pledge to give 0.7% of national income for international aid.
Rugby and Bulkington MP Mark Pawsey plans to join a growing group of Conservative rebels if there is a vote on UK aid spending.
Earlier this year ministers cut UK spending on international aid from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%. That’s almost £4bn less.
But a group of MPs, including Mr Pawsey, want to restore spending to 0.7% of national income from next January, requesting a debate on an amendment tagged on to the Advanced Research Agency Bill.
A spokesperson at the Rugby and Bulkington constituency office confirmed that if there was a vote, Mr Pawsey would put his voice against that of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr Pawsey tweeted just before lunchtime: “If there is an opportunity in Parliament today, I will vote to keep our commitment to the poorest countries - through projects such as supporting girls [sic] education, clean water & humanitarian aid for Yemen & Syria by maintaining international development at 0.7% of national income.”
The Speaker of the House of Commons announced mid-afternoon on 7th June that the vote was outside the scope of the day’s bill discussions, but suggested MPs could propose an emergency debate to happened on 8th June.
MP for Kenilworth and Southam Jeremy Wright said: “The proposed amendment to the Advanced Research Agency Bill designed to restore the 0.7% overseas aid target was not selected for debate by the Speaker and consequently there was no vote on it. It would be better if this issue did not have to be shoe-horned into a Bill like this, but it did not seem that Parliament would have another timely opportunity to vote on the matter.
“That being so, I would have voted for the amendment if there had been a vote, in the absence of hearing clarity from the Government on two things. First that, if the target must be missed this year due to the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic, then this does not justify the target being changed, as the 2015 Act which puts the target into law allows for the possibility of missing the target in a given year for exceptional reasons.
“Second, in order to confirm Ministers’ intentions to return to the 0.7% target ‘when circumstances allow’, Parliament must be given greater clarity about what will constitute such circumstances. I remain of the view that the 0.7% target is good policy and both in the interests of the poorest of the world and in our own national interest.”
More on international aid…In May we reported on how Thurlaston village and the Rugby Dunsmore Rotary Club are raising funds to fight polio, in the face of a 95% cut in polio vaccine funding from the UK Government.
Update: this story was updated on 7th and 8th June 2021 to include the latest information on the request for a vote and also to include a comment from MP Jeremy Wright.