Thank you for contacting me regarding reductions to the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) budget and the recent vote in Parliament.
This is an issue of great importance to me. I was lucky enough to work for a former Foreign Secretary and know first-hand the work that UK ODA does to save the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the world. As one of the few countries that met the 0.7% of GDP target, this is something of which we should be hugely proud as a nation. It was also a manifesto commitment on which I proudly stood at the last election.
Not only do I have moral objections to the Government’s approach, there are practical consequences for the UK too. As I stated in the House of Commons:
“The point of Global Britain is diplomacy, trade, aid and defence. Those four things are interconnected with one another: if we reduce one, that has an impact on all.”
I therefore also know by extension what damage and harm the Government’s plan to cut the ODA budget by £4 billion will do. Many people will die directly as a result of this ill-conceived policy. I have sought to raise my objections at every opportunity and have worked with colleagues across the House to ensure that at the very least, the Government brings its decision to a vote in Parliament.
I was proud to stand in the House yesterday and call out the Government’s chicanery in offering a ‘mirage’ of a compromise. You can read my full speech via the link below:
In the vote that followed, I acted as a teller for the opposition to the Government’s motion. I was proud to verify the votes against the Government, notwithstanding the fact tellers cannot vote themselves. There are 2 tellers for each side, hence cancelling each other out.
Whilst the outcome of the vote was bitterly disappointing, the Government must now make the unenviable decisions as to where the axe will fall. I will be advocating on behalf of the excellent charities and NGOs involved in overseas development to ensure they can continue their life-saving work.