Borders MP Michael Moore has described moves to secure UK aid at 0.7 per cent as “one step closer” after the passing of his International Development Bill in the House of Commons, writes Sandy Neil.
Mr Moore’s bill would make it a legal requirement for the UK Government to spend the UN target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income on international aid. His Private Members’ Bill was backed by the heads of top UK international development charities. It passed its third reading, despite attempts by some Conservative backbenchers to use parliamentary tricks to block it.
During the debate, Mr Moore said: “This bill matters because UK aid saves lives and transforms lives. It provides people with their most basic needs, builds capacity and contributes to vital economic development. It also honours the commitment the three main UK political parties made in their 2010 manifestos.
“Through this bill we will give predictability to our partners and aid recipients, and we will show leadership around the world and encourage other countries to join us. Passing this bill will move the debate on to how we spend aid rather than how much we spend, and it will ensure proper scrutiny of our aid.
“I wish to thank all supporters of the bill, including MPs from all parties, campaign groups, NGOs and colleagues across the House, and I am proud that today we are taking this step.”
Mr Moore told The Southern how his Borders background helped him seize the opportunity. “As the son of a minister in Jedburgh, the conditions of people in the developing world would be brought into sharp focus,” he said. “After church, there would be Fairtrade coffee, which taught us at a young age there was another world out there, where others are not as fortunate as ourselves. A huge number of constituents share these concerns.”
He was proud, he said, to join a tradition of Borders MPs who have guided Private Members’ Bills through the Commons – David Steel sponsored the Abortion Act in 1967, and Archie Kirkwood sponsored two in two years: the Access to Personal Files Act in 1987 and Access to Medical Reports Act in 1988.