The Queen's Speech: Government fails to meet aid pledge

 

Development charities have voiced disappointment that today's Queen's Speech did not include a commitment to enshrine in law the Government's commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid.

The coalition agreement stated that Britain would meet the United Nations target from 2013, and would make it a legal requirement to stick to the commitment.

The Conservative manifesto for the 2010 election said a Tory Government would legislate in the first session of Parliament to lock in this level of spending from next year.

But there was no Bill in the legislative agenda for 2012-13 set out by the Queen in Parliament this morning.

The Queen told MPs and peers: "My Government has set out firm plans to spend 0.7% of gross national income as official development assistance from 2013. This will be the first time the United Kingdom has met this agreed international commitment."

Melanie Ward, head of public affairs at development charity ActionAid, said the Government deserved credit for protecting the aid budget.

But she added: "It is extremely disappointing that their promise to enshrine the 0.7% commitment in law did not appear in the Queen's Speech. This is a promise from the coalition agreement and which was in the manifesto of each of the main parties. We expect the coalition Government to keep its promises.

"Legislation matters because aid needs to be around long enough to do the job. Many countries, such as Ghana, are now moving towards an end to dependency on aid but this can only happen if we support them until that point.

"Legislation would provide the certainty that is needed for aid to be most effective.

"The world is watching the Prime Minister's actions on international development because he is co-chairing a UN taskforce to decide what will happen when the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015.

"The Government backing down on its commitment to legislate on aid would delight those who oppose the UK's progressive stance on aid and dismay those who believe that Britain must stick to its word."

PA

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