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International Aid Targets

Volume 557: debated on Wednesday 30 January 2013

4. What assessment she has made of the proportion of GDP spent on overseas aid by the UK compared to equivalent spending by France and Germany. (140135)

In 2011, the UK spent 0.56% of GNI on official development assistance, or ODA. France spent 0.46% and Germany 0.39%. As I said a moment ago, we will reach our 0.7% ODA target this year. At the June 2012 European Council, France and Germany recommitted to spend 0.7% of their GNI on ODA by 2015.

I thank the Minister for that answer. As we have heard, we are on a trajectory to meet the 0.7% commitment, but that determination is not shown by all our EU partners. Can the Government do more to encourage them to meet previously made commitments?

The priorities we set are shared by EU countries, and some states—Sweden and Denmark, for example—have reached 0.7%. Germany’s aid increased by 2.6% in 2011, and it has publicly committed to reach 0.7% after 2015. The Government strongly urge other EU countries to follow our lead, and commit to and reach 0.7%.

I welcome the Minister’s commitment to pressure other European countries to meet their targets and reach 0.7%. When the UK meets that target, how much will be made up of non-departmental spend?

The amount of ODA in Government spending is accounted for with 90% from the Department for International Development and about 10% from other Departments.

As my right hon. Friend knows, I am a huge fan of his, but I wonder whether he agrees that there is something arbitrary about 0.7%. The United Kingdom has taken a lead in the world and shown the way, and we can also add in what our armed forces have contributed. Given the desperate and catastrophic state of the public finances that we inherited from the previous Government, surely the time has come to freeze overseas aid spending and devote some of that money to our hard-pressed armed forces.

The 0.7% target is a long-standing campaign, and my hon. Friend is right to say that to some extent it is arbitrary. Even if countries reach that target, it could be argued that it would still not suffice for the needs of the world. As a doughty defender of the armed forces, I assure my hon. Friend that we are committed to spending 30% of our budget on countries that are fragile or at risk of conflict, which often means working with his friends in the armed forces. Even though 0.7% may be arbitrary, the results we get for the money we spend are not, and they are evaluated rigorously.