I am glad to have supported the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill, which will enshrine in law the UK Government’s commitment to spend 0.7% of national spend on overseas aid, and I am pleased that it passed Second Reading in the House of Commons with such a clear majority.
British aid saves and changes lives and it is right that we help the millions of people around the world who are in desperate need as a result of conflict, natural disasters, entrenched poverty and climate change.
The previous Labour Government made real progress on this by trebling overseas aid, helping lift three million people out of poverty a year and by reaching historic agreements on debt reduction with some of the world's poorest countries. The previous Labour Government also made a firm commitment to enshrine the 0.7% target in law back in 2010.
It is disappointing that more than four years into this Parliament the current Government have not kept their promise to legislate for the 0.7% target and I know that many charities, campaign groups and my Shadow Frontbench colleagues have repeatedly raised this. It is welcome, therefore, that a Private Members Bill - the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill - has now been introduced to address this.
I believe this Bill will build on the achievements of the previous Labour Government and help ensure that our commitment to help some of the world's poorest people continues in the future. That is why I supported this Bill at Second Reading in the House of Commons and why I hope it will continue to progress through Parliament.
It is also important to remember that making a fixed commitment on the UK's overseas development budget is not the same as writing a blank cheque. Even a small amount of aid can help save a life, so I believe it is vital there is rigorous accountability and oversight of this spending so that every pound of taxpayers' money does the maximum amount of good. It is welcome that there are provisions in this Bill that seek to address this and I hope this will be debated further as the Bill progresses.
I am proud to represent Ealing Southall and always make it a priority to listen to people from my local area, whether it’s on a local or a global issue. After hearing from local residents, I wanted to fulfil our commitment to meeting our UK Aid promise and enshrine it in law. We have a duty to care for the world's poorest and it is also in our interest to help build a more peaceful and stable world.