Abandon overseas aid pledge, lords urge No 10
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 29 March 2012
Britain should drop its pledge to maintain its level of aid to the world's poorest countries, a House of Lords inquiry recommends today.
A report from an all-party group of peers urges David Cameron to scrap plans to enshrine in UK law the United Nations target for nations to spend 0.7 per cent of their gross national income on overseas aid.
The £8bn-a-year aid budget is due to rise by 37 per cent by 2015, the only area of government spending exempt from cuts apart from the NHS. The commitment to the UN target is opposed by many Conservative MPs and activists but was one of Mr Cameron's key pledges as he modernised his party.
The Lords Economic Affairs Committee argues that the goal is "arbitrary" and says that after next year – the deadline for the UN target – Britain's aid should be measured in terms of value for money rather than amount spent. It describes the proposed law as "political", saying it would deprive future governments of the flexibility to respond to changing circumstances at home and abroad.
Its proposals were swiftly rejected last night by Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, who warned they would "cost lives." He said: "The Government makes no apologies for sticking to its commitments to the world's poorest people."
The Lords inquiry criticises the Department for International Development for not doing enough to tackle fraud, describing the £1.2m found to have been syphoned off last year as "paltry and implausibly low". It urged an "early exit strategy" from Britain's aid programme in India.
It warns: "Large and prolonged aid programmes can have a corrosive effect on local political systems when the priority becomes to attract aid rather than to solve problems.
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
- 3 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 4 Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
- 5 Mrs Doubtfire 2: Robin Williams set to star in sequel to 1993 comedy
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...