Enshrining 0.7% into law. If Not Now, When?

Today’s Queen Speech did not include a commitment to legislate for the 0.7% development target to become law.

The omission is despite the promise in the Coalition Agreement to do just that. In fact, the Tories went one step further in their Manifesto and pledged to “legislate in the first session of a new Parliament to lock this level of spending every year”.

Another broken promise, then.

There is now a strong possibility that this Bill will not be passed before the next General Election, – which the Government did introduce legislation for to fix the date for May 2015. If the Government offer “lack of parliamentary time” as reasoning, we can expect some raised eyebrows. After all, at this Government’s say so, the Commons is subject to lengthy recesses, which mean less time to pass, debate and scrutinise legislation.

The decision to omit legislation of 0.7% from the Queen’s speech is revealing, and the Government’s commitment to development will be called into question again. Appeasing  Tory backbenchers unhappy with the 0.7% commitment has triumphed over a cast-iron promise .

This also represents a huge missed opportunity. UK is hosting the G8 next month, and the international community is watching the UK and the Prime Minister closely. Legislating for 0.7% would have sent a strong signal to the world. The Government need to step up their game if they are serious about development.

 

Bethan Twigg is LCID’s Vice Chair-Policy

Labour respond to the Queen’s Speech

Ivan Lewis MP and Baroness Kinnock respond strongly to the government’s omission of legalisation to enshrine the UK’s commitment to reach 0.7% aid.

Ivan said;

The Government’s failure to include the 0.7% aid commitment in legislation in the first Queen’s Speech breached a clear Tory manifesto commitment and a key element of the coalition agreement. Their failure to include it in this second Queen’s Speech is not only a broken promise, but represents something far more significant—a Prime Minister weakened by the omnishambles of recent months with no authority to change his party and a Chancellor pandering to the right, always with an eye to the succession. Development policy should not be used as a dividing line for internal ideological battles in the Tory party; it is too important for that. Will the Secretary of State now confirm when the Government will bring forward the legislation and whether there will be full Government support and co-operation for any private Member’s Bill that seeks to enshrine the 0.7% commitment in law?

And Glenys told the House of Lords;

Andrew Mitchell said not long ago “On the whole politicians should do what they say they are going to do” and he confirmed that legislation would take the 0.7% commitment “beyond doubt”. I agree with him. So let’s do it.

You can read Ivan’s speech in full here and Glenys’ remarks here.

Letter to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury: UK spending on Overseas Development Assistance

Last week, the Coalition Government announced in it’s programme for International Development that it would “stick to the rules laid down by the OECD about what spending counts as aid.”

But many NGOs are critical of the OECD’s laws, with organisations such as Aid Watch arguing that many EU Governments count non-aid items as aid in order to inflate their official aid figures. Under Labour, the UK was not one of them.

Ahead of tomorrow’s Queen Speech, we’ve written to the Treasury to seek their assurance that Britain’s ODA will not be watered down through creative accounting.

UK spending on Overseas Development Assistance

Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,

We welcome the commitment in the coalition agreement to continue this country’s path to spending 0.7% of GNI by 2013 on Overseas Development Assistance. We also welcome the decision to enshrine this level of spending in law.

However, we are concerned about the make-up of this spending commitment, particularly given that senior civil servants in the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence and Home Office are currently being asked to scrutinise their budgets for items that could be classified as ODA. If the coalition were to meet their promised ODA increases through an accountancy trick then Britain will not have kept its promise to the world’s poorest people. Double-counting cannot be equated to a material increase.

On this point the coalition’s reference to spending within OECD rules cannot be seen as a reassurance. UK ODA has always been of a higher standard than the OECD require, and it should be a source of pride that we do not count items such as university scholarships and costs associated with immigration towards our ODA.

The reason this concerns us is that any significant decrease in the proportion of ODA that is controlled and spent by the Department for International Development would result in a watering down of the poverty reduction focus that has been so successful in recent years. Conservative estimates suggest that DFID’s work has helped place 40 million more children in school, lifted 3 million people per year out of extreme poverty and contributed substantially
to the expansion in coverage of vital HIV/AIDS drugs.

Therefore, will you please confirm that the amount of ODA spent though DFID will remain at the current proportion of 88%?

Yours Sincerely,

Labour Campaign for International Development

cc: Secretary of State for International Development
cc: Permanent Secretary, Department for International Development
cc: Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

Make 0.7% aid spending UK law

In 2005, due largely to campaigning by many of us as part of the Make Poverty History campaign, world leaders promised to increase aid spending to 0.7% of their Gross National Income. Labour is tripling our aid budget and is committed to reaching the target by 2013.

Now we need to make that promise a reality by turning it into a binding law.

But we are during a recession and some are saying we should forget our promises to the world’s poor and that public support for aid has declined. The Torie’s claim they’d match 0.7% – but when they were last in power the slashed aid spending & pushed ruinous economic policies which made some of the poorest countries even poorer.

We have to show that the British people still want to make poverty history, and expect us to keep our promises.

In the Queen’s Speech, our Labour Government has set out plans to create a binding law to keep our promise to providing 0.7% of national income as aid.

Labour’s spending on international development has lifted 3 million people permanently out of poverty each year – that can’t be put at risk.

Please show you support this plan and take action – by signing up to the campaign & encouraging friends to do the same at www.globalpovertypromise.com.