Thursday, 28 August 2014

Crawley Observer Column 27th August 2014

This week in my Crawley Observer column I have written about UK foreign aid. I feel strongly about this and find it sad when UKIP/BNP make cheap political points calling for all foreign aid to stop, effectively saying that we as a wealthy country should sit back and allow people abroad to die from preventable diseases.

UK airdrops helping people in a desperate situation in Iraq
"A year ago, a column in this paper criticised government spending on foreign aid and called for it to stop. I believe Crawley is more generous than that and that our international aid is not only the right thing to do, it is good for Britain too.

One of the many ways I am proud to be British is our nation’s generosity to those abroad who are nowhere near as fortunate as us. This year, the UK achieved the UN’s international foreign aid target of 0.7% of national income. Over the last couple of weeks, seeing British aid being delivered by the RAF to help people in dire need in Iraq has made me immensely proud.
Foreign aid accounts for just 1.4% of total government spending. There is always potential for any government spending to be poor value and it is right to challenge and question, but finding one example of wasteful government spending does not mean we should stop all spending in that department. If a piece of equipment in a hospital functions poorly and is not value for money, no one suggests stopping all NHS spending. The same principle applies to foreign aid which shouldn’t stop if one bad example is found by critics.

Save the Children have published figures as to what is achieved for children with UK aid. In 2012 it prevented 2.7 million mothers and children from going hungry, it vaccinated 12 million children against deadly diseases and supported over five million children to go to school. More widely, our aid not only helps with immediate crises; it brings longer-term benefits such as education, infrastructure projects and enables people to better help themselves.
The UK is truly a global nation and over the last few years, our country has become increasingly respected and our overseas trade and ties have strengthened. Our foreign aid gives us influence to improve human rights and advance democracy. I believe that over the next few years, our generosity as a nation will be increasingly rewarded through trade deals and access to markets, which ultimately helps us here at home." 

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