The government once again failed to introduce legislation committing the UK to spending 0.7% of GNI on international development in the Queen’s Speech today. Unlike all the broken promises of the past, this has life or death implications for world’s poorest people.
As the Independent reports:
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.”
Ivan Lewis MP, Labour’s Shadow International Development Secretary, commenting on the Queen’s Speech today, said:
“Failing to include 0.7 legislation in the Queen’s Speech breaches promises made to the electorate both in the Tory manifesto and the Coalition Agreement. UK aid and development is about standing up for global social justice but is also about Britain’s national interest.
David Cameron used the promise of legislation as a key symbol of how he had changed the Tory Party. It has now become a symbol of how he has become a prisoner of the right and is unable to change his party.
There will now be growing concern about whether the Tory-led Government intend to honour their commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on development assistance by 2013. I will be seeking urgent reassurance from Andrew Mitchell that this remains the policy of the Government.”