Timetable to make overseas aid target mandatory announced (very quietly)
One of the aspects of the coalition agreement that the TUC unambiguously welcomed was the plan to increase overseas aid spending to the UN target of 0.7% of GNI, and to put that commitment into law.
It wasn’t a surprising commitment because it had been the policy of both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats during the election (and Labour, for that matter). But it was welcome nonetheless because of the right-wing arguments against the commitment, which, it has to be admitted, leaves DFID as the only Government department not just with a ring-fenced budget but one which is guaranteed to grow.
However, despite pre-legislative scrutiny in the dying months of the last Parliament, there was no reference to such legislation in the Queen’s Speech, just a continued commitment to expenditure. Some in the development community smelled a rat.
A timetable for legislation has now been announced, but – perhaps to avoid further rows of the ‘charity begins at home’ variety – it has been done extremely quietly. It’s set out in the DFID ‘structural reform plan’, and the commitment is to “enshrine in law our commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on Official Development Assistance from 2013” by November 2011.
So there you have it – a Bill will presumably be in this autumn’s Queen’s Speech.