Thank you for contacting me about your concerns regarding the proposed reduction in UK spending on overseas aid. I am fully supportive of the UK spending 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on international aid; I want us to continue this level of spending and I have made and continue to make representations to the Government and Chancellor urging them to maintain this level of commitment. Please know that I was supporting the amendment this week to the ARIA Bill. I signalled to Government that I would vote for this amendment. Unfortunately the Speaker ruled that the amendment was out of scope and so it was not debated or voted upon. The Speaker has urged the Government to bring forward an effective vote on International Aid, in which I would vote to reinstate the 0.7%. It may be that this amendment even not voted upon makes the Government reverse their decision and reinstate the 0.7% commitment. I will continue to urge the Government to reinstate the 0.7% as it is the right and ethical thing to do for a progressive outward-looking country like the UK.
Please know I feel very strongly about this and spoke on this issue in my speech in the Commons Debate on the Queen’s Speech:
Accordingly as I said above, I continue to urge the Government to reinstate the UK’s commitment to 0.7% of GNI being spent on international aid as soon as possible.
The UK's vital work on international development is a source of immense pride. The UK has for many years been the only G7 country to spend the UN recommended 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on overseas aid, and since 2015, the only country to guarantee this in law. I was elected in 2019 upon a manifesto pledge to maintain this commitment.
As such, I was very disheartened when I learned last September of the Government's intention to reduce this commitment, albeit temporarily. I appreciate the trying economic situation the UK finds itself in domestically, because of the pandemic, and why the Government and many across the House feel that this necessitates cutting back on our development commitments overseas – but I do not agree. The amount saved by cutting aid spending by 0.2 per cent of GNI to 0.5 per cent is a mere drop in ocean compared with what the Government is currently spending, and will do little to alleviate the current domestic economic crisis.
Indeed, the cut will make little difference to those of us lucky to reside in the UK, but it will have a massive impact on the world's most vulnerable people for whom the UK's aid efforts were hitherto a source of great hope, and who now stand to lose out.
Finally, I think cutting back on our commitments now, just as we are taking over Presidency of the G7, sends the wrong message. The pandemic, which risks erasing decades of progress, makes our international development efforts more essential than ever.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me and share your concerns. Please know I will keep going on this important issue.