Centre-right must restate the case for overseas aid, says former minister

Posted On: 
5th October 2017

International Development Secretary Priti Patel and Stephen Crabb MP spoke at Save the Children’s Conservative Party fringe event, calling for MPs to make the case for aid.

A former Cabinet Minister last night called on supporters of the foreign aid budget to restate the case for investing in overseas development.

Stephen Crabb argued that charities and Conservatives must both do more to trumpet the arguments in favour of spending 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid, amid rising domestic pressures and cuts in spending.

Mr Crabb, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, was speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative party conference, hosted by Save the Children and ConservativeHome, after launching a new Conservative Vision for International Development with fellow MPs the day before.

After being introduced by Save the Children chief executive, Kevin Watkins, Mr Crabb began: “One of the real challenges that we have on the centre-right of British politics… is how we remake and restate the case for our global responsibilities and sticking with our policies to invest in overseas development at a time when there are so many domestic pressures and cut backs in spending.”

He added: “If we are going to shore up the case for aid on the centre right of British politics, we need to hear from the grassroots.”

The MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire challenged Save the Children, as the charity approaches its   centenary year, to show MPs the achievements of overseas aid.

“[Overseas aid] is about doing morally the right thing, sticking with our responsibilities, not walking away from our global responsibilities, holding our head up high as a nation in the global community, as a nation that sticks with investing in prosperity and want to see the spread of prosperity to the farthest reaches of the earth,” he said.

“Prosperity isn’t just something for us in the UK, prosperity is something that the poorest people on the planet could aspire to and should feel is within their reach.”

International Development Secretary Priti Patel also restated the case for spending 0.7% of GDP on overseas aid, arguing that it   shows that when the world is in such a poor and terrible and desperate state, we don’t turn our back on the world’s poorest.”.

“We stand firmly with them and we will support them and help them, yes, in their hour of need, but also invest in them to give them better opportunities and better futures, too.”

She added: “It’s through the route of economic development, helping countries to stand on their own two feet, helping to get prosperity, jobs, trade, employment, giving people the chance to have that hand up, training people, having skills, having education. 

“The fact that we are educating millions of girls around the world, being at the forefront of female economic empowerment, helping women around the world getting jobs where there were no jobs for them. That is where we are making a difference. It is something that Britain and British government should be immensely proud of.”

Opening the event, Mr Watkins argued: “This isn’t just about the financial transfer. It’s about projecting the best of our national values on to the international stage. It’s a manifestation of what is best in this country, our commitment to the most disadvantaged people in the world.”

Citing the work done by Save the Children, from Yemen through to Somalia, Ms Patel said: “Children are at the heart of everything that we do in development, and rightly so. Whether it’s vaccinations, to nutrition, to education and tackling, as I said at the United Nations 10 days ago, the appalling scandal of child exploitation that exists across the world.”

In conclusion, Ms Patel hailed the Government’s partnerships with leading charities, including Save the Children, without which she argued ministers would not be able to deliver change.

“No one government department can deliver change on their own. It is about collaboration and it is a partnership. Our partnership in the British government with Save the Children, is one that we are incredibly proud of. And of course it speaks to our values, our British values, our place in the world and importantly the leadership that we bring to international development around the world,” she said.