Queen’s Speech confirms overseas aid law pledge has been broken
The Queen’s Speech failed to contain one particular law that has been promised ever since the Coalition was formed – a firm commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on overseas aid. That’s the level at which UK overseas aid should be spent this year (a promise that does seem to be being met, although lots of people are worried about what the aid total is spent on and whether there will be persistent underspends, like last year), but what about the future? Without the legislative commitment, any future Chancellor will be able to chop the aid budget at will.
This matters because (a) Governments should do what they promise (both to their electorate and the recipients of aid in developing countries) and (b) aid is much more effective if it is reliable, rather than changing from year to year without notice.
It gives me no great pleasure to say “we told you so”, but we have been raising doubts about the Coalition’s pledge for over a year, and pressing the Government to support the private member’s bill that Labour’s Mark Hendrick proposed in the last session. So have many others in the world of international development, and their disappointment – despite the achievement of the spending target – is clear.