Mary Creagh, Labour's international development spokeswoman, and a former Liberal Democrat member of the Cabinet have clashed over which party should be credited with getting a minimum foreign aid budget into law.
On Monday, the International Development Bill, which binds governments to spending at least 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid, has its third reading in the House of Lords. Although Lord Lawson, a chancellor under Margaret Thatcher, is expected to make one last speech against the Bill, this final debate is considered a formality before it receives Royal Assent later this month.
The Bill was drawn up by Michael Moore, the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP who was secretary of state for Scotland until 2013. This is a private members' bill, so was not part of the Coalition's legislative programme.
Ms Creagh says the bill will only make it to the statute books because of Labour. Ms Creagh told The Independent on Sunday: “This Bill nearly failed because, after four years of inaction from David Cameron, Tory and Lib Dem MPs failed to turn up and vote for it in the Commons.”
In its final reading in the House of Commons, 79 Labour MPs supported the Bill - more than the Lib Dems and Tories combined - even though both their 2010 manifestos had pledged to introduce this legislation. However, the bill did pass by 146 in support to six against.
Mr Moore said: “I hope nobody will seek to take away from the cross-party support this bill has represented. The concerns of this bill are - and need to be - cross-party.”
In December, a group of Conservative MPs, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Philip Davies tried to scupper the bill by tabling a number of lengthy amendments so that MPs would run out of time to vote. Mr Davies spoke for more than hour, but his effort was in vain as the bill proceeded to the House of Lords.Reuse content