Pauline Latham – 2021 Speech on Foreign Aid Cuts

The speech made by Pauline Latham, the Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire, in the House of Commons on 13 July 2021.

I rise really very sadly today, because like everybody else I stood on a manifesto that said that we would honour that 0.7% commitment, and I was there when we voted on it originally. The people we are trying to protect have already been hit, because our economy declined at the beginning of the covid pandemic. They will continue to be hit by this reduction to 0.5%, because 0.7% of a figure is a lot more than 0.5%. The amount has gone down hugely already, and people are suffering.

If we take a random family with two parents and maybe six children, four of whom are boys and two of whom are girls, the girls will be the ones who have less food and who would benefit from the nutritional programmes that we provide, but we will not be providing those programmes. The girls would normally get less food, because boys are prioritised in many families, and the boys would probably go to school, whereas the girls would not be able to go to school because they would not have the funding to enable them to afford it. The Prime Minister has stood so often on the promise that he will educate all girls with 12 years of quality education. Well, no matter how he protests, that is not going to happen now.

I feel that we are letting down the poorest people in the world. We are devastating their futures for £4 billion, which, as we have heard, is 1% of what has already been borrowed. It is not a lot of money. We have borrowed that money and, as has been said by many, the people who we should be benefiting will not benefit. They will not have malaria treatments, they will not have the neglected tropical disease treatments and they will not have all the help they need. Especially, they will have earlier marriages and younger pregnancies because we are cutting the devastating figure of 85% of the family planning budget and the abortion budget. That is going to devastate many girls. Many girls will die in early childbirth because of this decision by the Government.

I find it shocking that this Government are doing this. We are a Conservative Government, and we decided to spend the 0.7%. We legislated for it, and now we are letting the very poorest people down. I do not see how anybody who has heard the speeches today could in all conscience vote to support what the Government want to do with the double lock, because we will never get back to 0.7%.