Eight reasons every Scottish MP should vote in favour of 0.7% UK Aid

13 July 2021

The Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) calls on all 59 Scottish MPs to vote today, 13/07/2021, to restore 0.7% aid which is a lifeline for individuals, families and communities around the World.

Update following vote result

13/07/2021, Parliament vote to cut foreign aid

Ayes - 333
No - 298

Whilst we respect the democratic Parliamentary process, we condemn the decision made in Westminster on the 13/07/2021, to continue to renege on the UK’s commitment to an International Aid budget of 0.7% GNI. It is the world’s poorest people who will suffer from this paucity of leadership and short-sightedness.

Access to clean, safe water; nutrition and food security; healthcare; education for women and girls; progress in helping nations lift themselves out of poverty; human rights; national and regional security – all will suffer from the UK’s decision to cut aid to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Aid is already reduced because it’s calculated as a percentage of Gross National Income and not a fixed figure, so as the economy shrinks, so too does Aid. The UK’s Aid reduction to 0.5% has cut around £4bn a year to Aid and Research whilst increasing military expenditure by around £4bn.

This is a ‘Global Britain’ which is failing to grasp the global inter-connectivity that COVID has shown and betrays a moral poverty.

We applaud all Parliamentarians who advanced arguments during the debate in favour of 0.7% and who continue to champion their constituents’ vital links with Malawi and other parts of the World.

We ask Scotland’s six Conservative MPs to show their support, representing Scotland’s progressive internationalism: Andrew Bowie (MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine), David Duguid (MP for Banff and Buchan), Alister Jack (MP for Dumfries and Galloway), John Lamont (MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk), David Mundell (MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale) and Douglas Ross (MP for Moray).

Here are eight reasons why we feel it’s hugely important to vote for a 0.7% Aid commitment and not to continue to renege on the UK’s commitment to those in the greatest need:

1. Promises made to Scotland

We wrote to the PM to express concern at the disbanding of DFID last year. His reply came from Rt Hon Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, who said: “We remain, of course, committed to spending 0.7% of GNI on development. It is right in itself and it serves the national interest.

INSTA Tweet 3 Alistair Jack
2. Promises made to Parliament

The UK Government has, again and again, made explicit commitments to maintaining the 0.7% aid commitment in Parliament. The PM was directly asked by the Leader of the Opposition, whether he would cut 0.7% and he said: “Yes, of course we will make sure that we guarantee the DFID budget”.

INSTA Tweet 4 Starmer Boris
3. Promises made to the electorate

The current UK Government was elected on a manifesto which specifically promised there would be no cut: “We will proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7% per cent of GNI on development, and do more to help countries receiving aid become self-sufficient”

INSTA Tweet 4 1 Manifesto
4. Promises made to Malawi

Perhaps most importantly, the UK Government has made promises to people in lower income countries, with hundreds of contracts to fund work which it is now reneging on. The people of Malawi have been let down and trust has been lost.

Lilongwe flag SMP Stock
5. It’s the law

The UK Government is now arguing the 0.7% target is not law, reversing the public position it has always held. The Africa Secretary previously wrote to the SMP, on behalf of the PM, saying: “Our commitment to spending 0.7 percent of our national income on aid is enshrined in law and we will continue to be guided by our responsibilities under the International Development Act, including a commitment to poverty reduction. It is right and serves the national interest.”

Governments don’t get to change their mind about what the law says, when it suits their political interests.

Duddridge quote updated June 2021
6. It won’t save money

The UK Government’s decision to break its promise to spend 0.7% on aid, reducing this to 0.5%, will decrease the total cash commitment to international development by around £4 billion a year. However, at exactly the same time, the UK Government announced £4 billion of increased spending for the military. This isn’t about what the UK can and cannot afford. This is not an economic decision, it is a political and moral decision.

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7. Aid is going down anyway

International development is unique in that it is the only UK Government budget line that automatically decreases when the economy contracts, as it is a percentage of Gross National Income and not a fixed figure. It is hugely questionable, therefore, to argue that this is a logical place for the UK Government to make an (additional) huge cut.

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8. It’s, frankly, embarrassing

In November Scotland is hosting COP-26. It’s hugely damaging, counterproductive and, frankly, embarrassing for the UK to try and claim moral leadership in these areas while failing to meet its own promises on aid.

G7 and COP26