East Devon constituency: Readers’ questions answered - foreign aid
PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 April 2015 | UPDATED: 08:39 20 April 2015
East Devon constituency candidates for the General Election answer readers’ questions
Should the UK spend £12billion a year on foreign aid, and why?
Andrew Chapman (UKIP)
No. UKIP will spend approx. £2bn on water aid and child inoculations, plus additional Emergency Aid arising from requests for an international response to an unexpected disaster, but we will stop making payments to countries with corrupt governments which do not channel our aid to those for whom it is intended, and to countries whose economies are in a far healthier state than our own (freeing up funding for our own important but underfunded projects).
Stuart Mole (Liberal Democrats)
The UK is now committed to devoting 0.7 per cent of its national income on international development, and I think this is right, for two reasons. First, in a world where two-thirds live on less than $1 a day, we should be able to benchmark annually a small part of national income to helping those of our fellow human beings who live in abject poverty. Second, it is in our long-term economic interests. 14 of the fastest growing economies in the world are in the Commonwealth, a major focus for previous UK development support. They now offer markets, investment and trade.
Stephen Race (Labour)
The UK is about to hit our target of 0.7 per cent of GDP spent on foreign aid. This is a good thing, and I’m pleased that in this one instance, this Government stuck to our international commitments. The UK may be an island in geographic terms, but in a world that is as interconnected as ours has become, this matters less. From the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to immigration caused by war, famine and economics, assisting countries and communities to solve - and prevent - problems abroad can only benefit us here in the UK. Often I hear the view that ‘charity starts at home’ - I completely agree, and this world is the only home we have so we need to work to solve our problems together.
Hugo Swire (Conservative)
Yes. Providing aid not only brings relief against appalling poverty and suffering, but also helps to bring stability and peace. This, in turn, protects our national security. We are meeting our commitment to the world’s poorest people by spending 0.7 per cent of national income on aid, equivalent to only 1.6 pence in every pound the Government spends. This is immunising millions against diseases and giving children a better start. We have also worked to make our aid budget more transparent. UKIP wants to cut the aid budget by 85 per cent but have so far pledged to spend the savings 19 times over!
Claire Wright (Independent)
Foreign aid is only 0.7 per cent of our gross domestic product and its distribution reflects well on the UK and conveys substantial diplomatic benefits. Well targeted aid would reduce the desire for people to relocate to Britain – and lower immigration numbers.
This expenditure should continue, but with greater control on who receives the cash and what it is spent on. As the fifth largest economy in the world, we must continue to help those who need help. For example, one child goes blind every minute, adding to the total of 1.4 million. For a modest sum, surgery could save those children.