Michael Moore’s International Development Bill passes its first Commons hurdle

michael-moore-mp-secretary-of-state-for-scotlandMichael Moore’s Private Members’ Bill, which enshrines the 0,7% of GDP target for international aid into law, passed its Second Reading in the Commons today by 164 votes in favour to just 6 against. It will now go forward to be studied in more detail by a Committee. In July he wrote for this site about why he’d chosen this issue.

Speaking during the debate, Moore, who was International Development Spokesman for the Party in the run up to the last General Election, said:

Right now we are in the midst of an almighty debate about our future.

Development is a small but important part of the debate in Scotland. Reaching the UN target is an achievement of the UK as a whole, including Scotland.

As part of the UK, Scotland belongs to a family of nations which are the world’s second largest donors of international aid.

And we are not passive in this process either with 40% of the staff at DFID based in Abercrombie House in East Kilbride.

Together, with the rest of the UK, our money goes further and our impact is stronger.

Scots who want their country to be a force for compassion and relief should reflect on what we have achieved today.

Malcolm Bruce also spoke in the debate, making the point that a statutory target would encourage other countries to give more:

The crisis in the middle east has led to a substantial demand for humanitarian relief, of which the UK has been one of the most important sponsors: £600 million of our funding has gone to support refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and of course continues to go to Israel and Palestine. It is unfortunate that other countries with a similar interest to ours in that region—France, in particular—have come nowhere near our level of commitment. It is important that we continue to pressurise these countries to accept their share of the responsibility. Being the first G7 country to deliver 0.7% and then enshrine it in law would be a clear statement to our allies that we expect more of them. We should continue to pressure them to rise to the challenge. Unfortunately, however, as the humanitarian demand increases so some of our bilateral programmes are having to be cut. If we can maintain a rising aid budget, we should be able to maintain the bilateral programmes and deliver the humanitarian relief, and not have to choose between the two, as is currently the case—a concern expressed by the International Development Committee, which I chair.

You can read the whole debate here.

After the Bill cleared its first hurdle, Michael Moore said:

Enshrining the 0.7% target in law will move on the aid debate from how much we spend to how we spend it.

This bill will make sure as a country we provide people in grave need with lifesaving support – including  food, water, shelter and medical assistance.

It will also set an example to other wealthy countries to persuade them to join us in this commitment.

I am extremely proud Liberal Democrats in Government have delivered on the 0.7% target and continue to demonstrate our commitment to the world’s poorest.

I want to thank all the NGOs who have supported my efforts to move this bill forward.

If you were going to have a guess about which 6 Tories had voted against the Bill, you probably would have chosen this predictable sextet: James Gray, Philip Hollobone, Adam Holloway, Sir Gerald Howarth, Sir Edward Leigh, and Jacob Rees-Mogg.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • This is particularly important at a time of crisis when a deadly disease threatens to engulf west Africa, and to spread around the world. When will the naysayers learn that it is in our own interests to spread to spread well-being and tackle the poverty and disease of our fellow humans?

  • Suzanne Fletcher 15th Sep '14 - 12:40pm

    proud to be part of the party that has made this law.
    might not be popular with all, but we are in politics to make a difference, and this is one big move.

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