Andrew Mitchell condemns the decision to break the 0.7% ODA promise.
I thank the Foreign Secretary very much for his courtesy over recent months, for his extremely welcome support for the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, and for his kind comments about Lady Sugg, who was a brilliant Development Minister. I hope that everyone in the House will read her principled and moving resignation letter, which she released yesterday.
My right hon. Friend and I both know that, seen from the Biden White House, this is a dismal start to our G7 chairmanship. As the former Prime Minister said yesterday, the 0.7% is a promise that we as Tories do not need to break. My right hon. Friend knows, does he not, that taking a further 30% out of the development budget will drive a horse and cart through many of the plans that the British Government have so strongly supported for eliminating poverty. It will withdraw access to family planning and contraception for more than 7 million women, with all the misery that that will entail; 100,000 children will die from preventable diseases; and 2 million people—mainly children—will suffer much more steeply from malnutrition and starvation as a result of these changes. In spite of what he says about prioritising girls’ education, which is extremely welcome, under the existing plans probably 1 million girls will not be able to go to school. I hope that he will bear in mind that these reductions make little difference to us in the United Kingdom, but they make a massive difference to them.
My right hon. Friend talked about ICAI. As he knows, I am committed to reinforcing ICAI’s role; we welcome the transparency and scrutiny. Finally, he talked about the US. With respect, I disagree. At 0.5% next year, we will still be spending a greater proportion of GNI than the US. Given the widespread cross-party concerns in the US about defence spending within the European context, I think they will welcome the fact that we are increasing our security and defence budget.