A GUARANTEE that a share of the UK’s national wealth is used for international aid looks set to become a law after it was overwhelmingly supported by MP in the Commons.
The private members Bill put forward by Lib Dem former Scottish Secretary Michael Moore to put into law the UK’s promise of spending 0.7 per cent of the UK’s gross national income (GNI) met with opposition from just a handful of Tory backbench MPs but was backed by Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour, the Lib Dems and SNP.
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The legislation cleared the Commons 146 to 5, majority 141, with about 15 minutes to spare, meaning it can be sent to the House of Lords before Christmas and with some Parliamentary time remaining to navigate passage to the statute book.
Introducing the debate on the third reading, Mr Mooresaid the Bill mattered because UK aid “saves lives and transforms lives”.
He told MPs: “We show leadership internationally which can be used to press other rich countries to join us, the first G7 country to reach the UN target and we move the debate on to focus on how we allocate our overseas development aid, not how much we spend on it.”
Speaking during the third reading debate, Tory International Development Minister Des Swayne reiterated the Government’s support for the Bill and said it was a “timely Bill in the face of an enormous humanitarian crisis across the world”.
Labour’s shadow international development secretary Mary Creagh said Britain’s international development spending was not only “morally right”, but in Britain’s national interest.
However, the Bill was bitterly opposed by a handful of MPs on the Tory backbench, producing a stubborn minority of between four and six votes on a series of divisions during the day.
Tory Bury MP David Nuttall said: “This country and the people of this country have a long and proud history of giving generously to charity and long may that continue.
“But there is a danger, is there not, that some, not all, but some might think that by enshrining the 0.7 per cent figure in statute that the Government is doing their job for them.
“I’d like to see people feel that it is their responsibility, as well as a matter of charity and an act of charity, to give to international aid charities.”
However, former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell - in his first Commons contribution since losing his libel case - congratulated Mr Moore on the Bill.
Mr Mitchell was the minister who set the UK aid budget at 0.7 per cent in 2010 but without statutory backing.
He said: “It’s a matter of huge pride - this Bill will hopefully reach the statute book now.
“It puts into operation a promise all parties in this House have made to the public. It’s not only the right thing to do but it is hugely in Britain’s national interest.”
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