One Step Closer to 0.7%

Lib Dem MP's bill to protect International Aid gets another step closer to being law.

Last month, Hackney Lib Dems welcomed Lynne Featherstone MP to speak at our AGM on her work as a minister at the Department for International Development (DfID).

Lynne has done some amazing work - combating the evil of Female Genital Mutilation, promoting health and economic development goals and embedding a commitment to diversity in our international efforts. One example she gave was that, before 2010, very few of the schools built with UK aid in subsaharan Africa were wheelchair accessible - now it is a policy to make sure they all are.

Imagine how hard it is to be a child growing up with a disability - then imagine how much harder it might be in a remote African community where life is already tough. An accessible school means being able to take part with the rest of your classmates and being able to learn and advance.

Projects like this are just one way that the money we give as international aid makes a difference. It helps prevent wars and disease and refugee crises; it helps build local economies so that the next generation doesn't have to rely on aid. I believe that's worth spending money on.

Back in the 1960s, developed countries set a target to spend 0.7% of annual income (GDP) on aid to the developing world. That's a tiny fraction but it will make a huge difference. In 2013, Britain became one of the first countries to hit the 0.7% target - now Lib Dem MP, Michael Moore, is pushing a Private Member's Bill through parliament to compel the government to stick to this level in the future.

Today, despite the efforts of a small number of right-wing Tory MPs to talk it out, the bill passed its third reading and now only needs to go through the House of Lords. The other 99.3% of the country's wealth will continue to be spent on services and help for people living in the UK, but I think it says a lot about us as a country that we would be willing to achieve and guarantee that we will always help those less fortunate than ourselves.

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