This week saw the first International Development questions of the new coalition government; unfortunately it revealed the Conservatives are already fudging their promises on aid.
This week saw the first International Development questions of the new coalition government; unfortunately it revealed the Conservatives are already fudging their promises on aid. In their manifesto, the Tories pledged to “legislate in the first session of a new Parliament” to enshrine in law that 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) will be spent as official development assistance.
They also vowed in their Coalition Programme for Government to continue the UK’s international leadership on aid and meeting the Millennium Development Goals. But as we reported last week, a Bill on 0.7% was missing from the Queen’s Speech.
Questioning this, Gareth Thomas, former Minister of State at the Department for International Development asked:
“Will not one telling signal of the new Government’s willingness to show leadership on this issue be whether they bring forward legislation to put the UN’s aid target of 0.7% on the statute book before [the MDG] September summit?”
In his answer, international development secretary Andrew Mitchell refused to give a timetable for the 0.7% Bill, saying only:
“If he will bide his time in patience, he will see that that is precisely what we will do.”
His answer confirmed by omission that legislation would not be on the statute book by the time of the MDG summit and will undermine the UK reputation for international leadership that Labour has passed on to the coalition; Labour left the coalition a draft Bill that had been scrutinized by the International Development Select Committee, so why the delay?