Andrew Mitchell urges the Prime Minister to let Parliament vote on the Government’s decision to cut the commitment to spending 0.7% of GNI on international development.
There is much to be welcomed in my right hon. Friend’s statement today, but is he not concerned that our position as chair of the G7 is undermined by Britain being the only country in the G7 that is cutting its development budget, in breach of our clear party manifesto commitment? If he is determined to pursue this aspect of his policy—I know my right hon. Friend; he is a democrat—when will he bring it to the House for a vote? Otherwise, he may be in danger, as from the start of the new financial year, of creating an unlawful Budget.
I have great respect and admiration for my right hon. Friend, who has campaigned for many years on international development and done much good, but I have to say, listening to contributions from around the Chamber, that we are in danger of talking Britain down. The investments we are making are colossal—absolutely colossal—by any international standards. We are the second-biggest contributor of aid in the G7 already, and in spite of all the difficulties occasioned by the pandemic, we are contributing £10 billion this year to support the poorest and neediest in the world. Yes, I can reassure my right hon. Friend that we will return to the 0.7% when the fiscal circumstances allow, but the law makes it very clear that when we have exceptional circumstances—I do not think anybody in this House or around the world would contest that we have had exceptional circumstances—we are entitled to vary that 0.7% commitment, and that is what we are doing.