Foreign Affairs

It's official: politicians can keep their promises


There’s a powerful verse in the Book of Psalms that reads as follows:

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (Ps 133:1)

Christians have spent far too much time over the centuries fighting and bickering about doctrine and other differences, rather than focusing on what they hold in common with each other through the salvation of Jesus Christ. A similar thing could be said of our politicians.

It is a rare and beautiful moment when we see MPs and Peers laying down their party political weaponry and working together for the greater cause of the common good. We saw this yesterday when the 0.7% Private Member’s Bill, which aims to enshrine in law a commitment to spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on foreign aid, received its Third Reading. Fridays are constituency days for most MPs, so to ensure the Bill had sufficient support, various manoeuvres by the different parties resulted in LibDem MPs being shipped down  from Scotland and Conservative and Labour supporters of the legislation ringing round to bring in their own MPs back to Parliament for the vote.

In the end the 146 to 6 majority was overwhelming, and the filibustering attempts of two Conservatives failed to stop the Bill passing through to the House of Lords. Philip Davies, one of the dissenting MPs, had previously described it as “a handout to make a few middle class, Guardian-reading, sandal-wearing, lentil-eating do-gooders with a misguided guilt complex feel better about themselves”. Andrew Mitchell, Jeremy Hunt and quite a few others who turned up might not be too chuffed about being labelled in quite such endearing terms…

This aid Bill, which now has a very high chance of becoming law, is the latest stage in a long and drawn-out journey that the UK began in 1969. In that year the Commission on International Development produced a study that recommended developed countries commit 0.7% of their GDP to the assistance of developing countries.  A year later, the UN General Assembly made this target a commitment. It was reaffirmed in 2000 when the Millennium Development Goals  were drawn up.  In 2005 at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles all G8 members from the European Union pledged to reach the 0.7% target by 2015.

In 1970, when the UK agreed to the UN commitment, our development assistance stood at about 0.36%. By 1999, progress was non-existent. In fact it had dropped to less than 0.25%. In 2000 the government finally started to work towards the 0.7% target in earnest, and in 2013 our promise was fulfilled after a 43-year wait. The UK now stands in a small, select group of nations who currently give at this level or above. The others are Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, and Denmark.

At a time of incomes being squeezed in homes up and down the country, and government money in short supply, such a desire to permanently fix our aid budget is certainly unpopular in certain quarters. Talking about the Bill yesterday, Nigel Farage said:

Of the £11 billion a year that we spend on foreign aid, only £2 billion of it is spent on genuine humanitarian (things), you know, inoculation or clean water. So I’d cut £9 billion from that.

£11 billion does indeed sound a lot, but it only represents 1.4% of government spending. Or, to put it a different way, 7p in every £10 of our national income is being used to help the world’s poorest people. Is that too much to ask? There are 1.3 billion people living below the global poverty line of $1.25  per day. This country’s giving saves thousands of lives and improves the quality of life for millions more. Certainly there are plenty of debates that can be had about how this money is spent and who should receive it. We’ve given plenty to countries such as India and China in the past, who we’d now see as being less deserving, but priorities change. Since 2002 all UK international aid has had to be aimed at eradicating poverty, and money is increasingly being spent on high-impact sustainable projects.

By fixing the 0.7% figure, the predictability of aid will be increased, allowing recipient countries to plan better, and helping the UK Government to make fruitful long-term investments. It will also allow the political debate to move on from how much we spend to ensuring that our aid is as effective it can be. Putting our aid commitment in law also creates more space for debate about how we can better tackle the root causes of poverty, such as tax-dodging and climate change.

Trust in our politicians is hard to find these days, but what this Bill has done is to confirm that there are plenty who do want to keep their promises. The Conservatives, Labour and LibDems all made manifesto commitments in 2010 to place the 0.7% figure into law. It was also part of the Coalition Agreement. But despite government foot-dragging, yesterday’s vote demonstrated how many MPs insist that backing down is not an option, either for this or future governments.

What makes this even more powerful is that along the way all Westminster parties have played a part. We wouldn’t be where we are without all of the work Gordon Brown did in making this area a priority. It was George Osborne, who unwaveringly carried it through to completion, and it was former LibDem Cabinet minister Michael Moore who brought forward his Private Member’s Bill with determination, managing to win the cross-party support of many, including David Cameron.

This is politics as it should be, at its very best. So to all those who voted yesterday, a very sincere thank you.

Turn Up Save Lives Thank You


  • Dominic Stockford

    Salvation through Jesus Christ is necessarily doctrine, so doctrinal differences do matter, eternally.
    As for borrowing money to lend it to others who mostly then misuse it, where is the morality in that?

  • Malcolm Smith

    It’s a bad law. Foreign aid is all too often counter-productive. A lot of good work is done by private, usually religious, organizations, which act at the coal face to provide aid to individuals and villages.
    The best government aid occurs as a response to a disaster, when people need the money then and there. This is the equivalent of giving a man a fish when he is starving. However, at some point, you have to teach him to fish. The trouble is, foreign aid tends to go to governments, which means corruption, mismanagement, and patronage. At best, it means that governments can put off making necessary reforms because certain aspects of their budgets are taken care of. Besides which, there is the contradiction in development aid: if the circumstances are right for economic development, private investment will automatically flow in; if not, then the aid will be wasted.

  • Dreadnaught

    Foreign aid is the equivalent of exporting the benefits culture that is eroding society in the UK. Help when direct is a worthy cause. Doling out cash without accountability of spending is not helping anyone who is in need. Politicians and government officials don’t need palaces and a fleet of the latest top of the range Mercedes. Paying benefits to some that outstrip the wages of others is immoral and and culturally corrosive.

  • David

    Establishing truth by searching for doctrines that reflect God’s wishes for us, is essential for each individual’s salvation. So effort spent on establishing sound doctrine is necessary.
    Voters are aware that much aid is misappropriated. Auditing and cost-effectiveness studies are largely absent. A smaller number of voters are aware that large sums of aid, handed over to corrupt rulers and regimes, can serve to prop them up, increasing their power as the distributors of that money. This frustrates any movement to sounder governance.
    A government has no money of its own, only the taxes extracted from the population. It’s first duty is to its own citizens. So at a time when many in this country struggle, committing vast sums for the benefit of overseas, is a most insensitive thing to do. It reinforces the growing perception of a disconnect between the governed and the political elite. It looks uncaring in the eyes of many.
    Small sums used effectively, through personal contacts and constantly monitored, measured and audited can transform peoples lives. Churches and small charities are good at this, not BIG government, which is best employed at disaster relief and similar.

  • beulah

    The opposition to the bill wasn’t in truth the amount, but the means … they claim that much of the aid is diverted by corrupt governments. So a smaller amount, directed through, for example, the relief agencies, would have greater affect. Or at least, that’s how I understood their argument.

  • Booboo Ababongo

    Yayyyy! More of my money subsidising mentally deficient and violent blacks to have more children. What’s not to like?

    • Inspector General

      Now look. We have to keep civilisation going in these places, what there is of it, otherwise it will collapse completely and the blighters will start to consume themselves, literally. It would be a shame on mankind to just stand and watch. As for ‘more children’ Mother Nature (That’s God’s feminine side) has thrown up enough barriers to keep the population there in check, and that isn’t counting their own desire to do each other in. One shudders at the thought of a cure for malaria. We should leave well alone.

      Anyway, get with it, and no more cynicism from you. That’s the Inspector’s remit…

    • carl jacobs

      Evidently, Mr “Booboo Ababongo” advocates a quite different policy. “Reduce Violence and Mental Deficiency through Natural Wastage.” After all. They are only black people and we only require so many servants in the clubs.

      • Inspector General

        Get off your high horse Carl. The man makes a point it is difficult to talk away. We British know exactly what’s going on in your country right now. A white policeman, assaulted as he tried to arrest a black robbery subject was put so in fear of his life, he had to shoot him dead.
        And what followed, nationwide disturbances by blacks and white apologists for them who all have it seems an aversion to law and order. Any more and the bastards will be ‘dancing in the streets’ 1960s style. Don’t worry, we had exactly the same here 3 summers ago…

  • Shadrach Fire

    Gillan, doing good is good but as was said earlier, to borrow money to give away seems ridiculous. How do you and Cranmer manage to get on? Your articles seem to express an extreme socialistic view and Cranmer as we know is positively Conservative.
    I can only agree with other commentators that the people of this country are sick and tired of the abuses of the foreign aid system. If, as you say, they are making changes, then I shall wait and see but since it will be the same people handing out the money to the same Overseas Agents, taking their massive commissions and allowing misuse and abuse in the implementation of the funds with probably less than 30% getting to the real issue. Even in India there is great poverty but their Government will not deal with it because of their Caste system.
    Further more I do not agree with the legalising of Aid to 0.7% of national income. It should be according to need and availability. If you wanted to spiritualise this you could have supported a tithe on national income. Scripture tells of the widow who gave her Mite. Less than the minimum required but greater than she could afford. Let’s be sensible about this and do according as I said to need and availability.

    • Inspector General

      Chin up, Shadrach. Wasn’t it Churchill who said that if you’re young and not a socialist, you have no soul. But if you are older and still a socialist, you have no sense.

      Young Gillan has a way to go yet, before the choke lead is finally pulled on him. Did not Cranmer herald his appearance under ‘mergers and acquisitions’. Damn cleverly cryptic introduction if you ask the Inspector…

  • Uncle Brian

    “a handout to make a few middle class, Guardian-reading, sandal-wearing, lentil-eating do-gooders with a misguided guilt complex feel better about themselves”.
    I wish to protest against the unwarranted slur on sandal wearers. Since my retirement a few years ago, sandals are what I wear almost all the time. On the other hand, it’s been many years since I last opened a copy of the Guardian. Credit where it’s due: it used to be the paper with the best crosswords, though.

    • Nuclear weapons.

      • I think the Government should make a rule that the despots ruling the countries to which the aid is given should be required to spend it on British-made cars like range Rovers and Bentleys. It is surely adding insult to injury when they use it to buy Mercs and BMWs.
        It would be nice to require the vehicles to be from British-owned companies, but I don’t see too many potentates wanting to ride around in a Morgan. Apart from anything else, it would be difficult to bullet-proof the soft roof.

        • Uncle Brian

          ”Rolls-Royce Phantom Two, 4.3 litre, 30 horsepower, six-cylinder engine, with Stromberg downdraft carburettor, can go from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in 12.5 seconds. And I even like the colour.”
          The Sultan of Hatay (Alexei Sayle)

  • Graham Wood

    A poster on a different blog, but same subject has expressed the ‘problem’ of an imposed government aid diktat well:
    “Aid by politicians can be best summed up by that picture of RedEd giving a few coppers to immigrant beggar – Gesture Politics.
    It has no real aim or measurement. Its just throw some cash in this direction and just hope it works. It both condescending and patronising to the recipient.
    One way to reduce poverty, is through trade. And you are not going to be able to trade with poorer countries through the restrictions of a Customs Union (EU).
    Outside the EU and the Customs Union, we would be free to trade with other nations and buy food, goods and services at a far lower rate. Increasing the size of their middle-class and thereby spread the wealth. More money and wealth flowing through those nations would negate the need to look for better elsewhere, so reduce the pressures of migration.”
    The important and fundamental point being “outside the EU”.
    Alternatively of course, if an imposed aid is to be operative why not divert to charitable causes, in the UK or elsewhere, some of the £17 Billion p.a. we throw down the drain to keep the EU bureaucrats in a style to which they have become accustomed?

  • Linus

    Surely the issue here isn’t aid, but rather the State’s usurpation of the Church’s self-appointed role as chief distributor of alms.

    I mean, if the poor and starving can find succor and a hot meal in a place where they won’t be proselytized and pressured to sell their souls for food and sustenance, where will the next generation of converts come from?

    Mother Teresa must be spinning in her grave. What? Beggars are going to have choices? It’s the end of the Church’s expansion in the Third World as we know it!

    • Inspector General

      Unless the Inspector is wrong, you come across as a well fed arse, totally oblivious to the needy, who don’t ask questions when they’re aided…

      • carl jacobs

        Linus was making a comment about religion and not aid. He was saying we don’t like Gov’t aid because aid is the way we buy people into the church. “You have to sell your god as a bread king” is the argument he was making.

        • The real irony in the comment is that Mother Teresa has been criticised by all Christian denominations for not converting people to Christ.

          • CliveM

            Happy Jack

            I couldn’t work Linus out. Initially because of his lack of sense of humour or irony, I thought he must be American (sorry Carl!!). However his snivelling, self pity seemed to rule that out. None of that rumbustuous self confidence you would expect from across the pond.

            His snivelling self pity I put down to an unpleasant teenage caused by his sexuality. And I felt sorry for him. Then not 20 minutes ago I find out he is French! And all became clear. How could I have not seem it before?

            Now I feel pity for him. Their is nothing we can do. No succour we can give. It’s genetic. The bitterness and jealousy, it’s all heredity. In the DNA as it were.

            You are right, this is one troll without hope. We mustn’t feed him.

          • carl jacobs

            I think I have finally figured out this “Americans have no sense of humor” trope. It begins with an incomprehensible attempt at comedy by some Brit. Whereupon the hapless American is reduced to stair in slack-jawed befuddlement. At which point the Brits exchange knowing looks that say “These Americans just have no sense of humor.”

            Good examples of British humor:

            1. Monty Python
            2. Wallace & Grommit
            3. Manchester United losing a championship because of two stoppage time goals.
            4. Ummm mm….

          • CliveM

            I’m told Benny Hill was big in the US. Although whether that proves my point or yours I’m not sure!

          • Uncle Brian

            Yes, but only after he was safely dead and buried. In his lifetime his brand of comedy was considered unacceptable by American standards.

          • Inspector General

            It’s the Irish who elevate their gifted to national icon level but only AFTER their death, which often takes place in exile…

          • CliveM

            Suddenly thought of Dave Allen.

          • CliveM

            Really I thought he was big there before he died.

          • Uncle Brian

            Spike Milligan? Ronnie Barker? Porridge, a 1970s sitcom set in a prison? Mr Bean, and Rowan Atkinson in other incarnations? He plays a vicar in Keeping Mum, in which the real star is Maggie Smith. Surely that can’t be unknown in the U.S.?

          • carl jacobs

            There have been numerous transplants of British comedy onto American Public Television* and I have tried to watch them. That’s where the slack-jawed befuddlement comes in. Every once in a while you see something funny. But it’s almost as if it occurs by accident. After a while, you come to think of British comedy like British cooking. Boiled and inedible.

            It’s always been curious to me because I could without thinking list off ten British crime dramas that are better than any equivalent American crime drama ever produced ever. As a matter of fact, I noticed just this past Wednesday that I had new episodes of Inspector Morse on Netflix. I was depressed when Lewis ended so quickly, and where are the new episodes of Endeavor? And who was the chucklehead who screwed up Foyle’s War? That show was brilliant. One episode per month of the war, and then some idiot says “Oh, we have to cancel it so suddenly it’s 1944.” That decision should have been actionable.

            *Public TV is what passes for non-commercial television in the US.

          • Uncle Brian

            Carl, some of the series you mention are known to me by name only,Inspector Morse, for instance, though I’ve never had the chance to watch it. Others on your list, I’m sorry to say, I’ve never even heard of until now, living as I do in a non-English speaking country. That’s why the names I mentioned – Spike Milligan and Ronnie Barker in particular – date back to the dim and distant past when I was still normally resident in the UK. My usual comedy fare these days is what we get on cable here, including three series that I’ve found immensely enjoyable: Mr Bean, Seinfeld, and Everybody Loves Raymond. All three are pretty old now, of course, but I haven’t seen anything as good among more recent productions.

            One Brazilian film I think you’d enjoy, if you get the chance, is Romeo and Juliet Get Married. It’s set in present-day São Paulo and the reason why the marriage is totally unacceptable to both families is that they support rival football (sic) teams. The star role in the film is Juliet’s father. If it was a Hollywood production, it would have been a role for Walter Matthau. It’s that kind of comedy.


          • Carl Jacobs Becomes First American to Understand Irony

            Carl Jacobs, 68, yesterday became the first American to get to grips with the concept of irony. “It was weird,” Jacobs said. “I was in London and, like, talking to this guy and it was raining and he pulled a face and said, “Great weather, eh?” and I thought “Wait a minute, no way is it great weather.” Jacobs then realised that the other man’s ‘mistake’ was in fact deliberate.

            Jacobs, who is 69 next month, plans to use irony himself in future. “I’m, like, using it all the time,” he said. “When Manchester City loose the Premiership Football title, I plan to say, “Hey, great weather!””.

          • carl jacobs

            I am not anywhere close to 68.

          • 78 then … ?

          • carl jacobs

            This is another failed attempt at British humor, isn’t it?

          • A very good friend of Jack’s went on holiday to the United State of America. There’s even a certain irony in the name of the nation.

            Whilst there he was very badly assaulted. Both his legs were broken. A kind person took him to hospital in his car, leaving him outside in case any liability for treatment incurred. He managed to crawl inside, covered in blood. Two nurses ran over shrieking, “Oh my goodness. Are you okay.” My friend, before passing out, replied, “Perfectly fine. I have come in to shelter from the rain.”

            Several hours later he woke up in the same spot. He then understood American’s are incapable of grasping British humour.

          • Inspector General

            Carl is the same age as the Inspector, and as it happens, Avi. A mix of manly magnificence and youth , if you will….

          • Jack is sure Carl will be thrilled to learn he has so much in common with you, Inspector. Not to mention a Canadian.

          • Inspector General

            The Inspector would be thrilled if the fellow paid the tax on tea he received around two hundred years ago…

          • CliveM

            With interest

          • Inspector General

            Of course. And a damn apology…

          • CliveM

            Have you ever had a cup of tea in the States? Don’t, absolutely awful.
            I suspect when they dumped it into the bay, they thought it was how to brew up a cup.

          • carl jacobs

            Americans will drink Iced Tea – sweet or otherwise. Hot tea is generally consumed with oriental food. Anyways, that’s the only time I drink it. Americans far prefer coffee.

          • carl jacobs

            We apologize that circumstances prevented resolution of the mysterious case of all that tea being chucked into the water by person or persons unknown. You should know that a thorough investigation was performed, but no arrests were ever made due to lack of evidence. The best theory of the case is that Canadians environmentalists angry over British whaling practices disguised themselves as Native Americans and decided to exact retribution on British shipping. There was a significant amount of circumstantial evidence found at the scene – a Beaver tail hat left on the ship, a Molsen bottle floating in the harbor, the fact that the perpetrators used red and green war paint. But prosecutors didn’t have enough to file charges.

            The Boston Police Dept still regrets its inability to bring the criminals to justice – a fact which I am sure will comfort you.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            You are being decidedly dispepsic Happy Jack…

          • ;o))

          • Uncle Brian

            I know Avi’s age, at least to within a year or two, because he once described a datable political event that he remembers from his childhood. But how do you know Carl’s age?

          • carl jacobs

            Uncle Brian

            I mentioned it once. We are about the same age.

          • Carl

            Man, as Shakespeare observed, has seven ages. You need to be more precise.

          • Uncle Brian

            All three of you, then? Avi, the Inspector and yourself?

          • Martin


            I recall seeing an attempt at transplanting a British comedy to the US. I found it painful. That said, I think Chuck was hilarious with a background concept that could be resurrected.

          • CliveM

            In fairness I like the Big Bang Theory.

          • Inspector General

            You’ve obviously never heard of Eric Pode, of Croydon. Number 5 for him…

          • It’s principally because Americans just don’t understand irony. This requires intelligence and mental flexibility. When Americans try to use it they get embarrassed for fear of offending. Their humour tends to be in your face. Plus, because they’re not so culturally developed, too much Poe poetry and not enough Shakespeare. They need to make a joke obvious. British humour is subtle, intelligent, often with a dark, ironic undertone and containing a hidden meaning.

          • Martin


            Oh dear, you haven’t come across much British humour have you. This might be a good place to start:


          • carl jacobs


            I recognize some of those shows from PBS.

          • Martin


            I’ll admit, some of them I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole, some I find embarrassing & some are classics. Doubtless many of us here would disagree on which are which.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Would examples of American humour include
            1) Different Strokes
            2) The Cosby Show
            3) The Mary Tyler Moore Show
            4) That 70s Show
            5) Hilary Clinton
            Just asking dear Carl….

          • carl jacobs


            On the subject of Good America Comedy, let me give you a few recommendations.

            1. Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.
            2. The early years of Saturday Night Live.
            3. Barney Miller
            4. WKRP in Cincinnatti

            Early stuff would include
            1. Laurel & Hardy
            2. Buster Keaton
            3. Harold Lloyd

            Essential Movies:
            1. Airplane
            2. Blazing Saddles (except the end)

            And a couple treasures you probably haven’t heard of:

            3. The Russians are Coming
            4. His Girl Friday

            I would also recommend you look up Bill Cosby’s monologues from the 60s. That’s where he made his name.

          • Uncle Brian

            Carl, I fully agree with you about The Russians Are Coming, less so about Blazing Saddles. It’s good in parts but there are other Mel Brooks pictures I like better, such as Life Stinks and, in particular, Young Frankenstein, with the unforgettable line, “Pardon me, boy, is this the Transylvania station?”

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Ah the French…I have never forgiven them for what they did to poor Louis XVI. It all went downhill after that…

          • CliveM

            It was all down to the Peasants. They were, and are, revolting……

            Truth be told, it may of gone downhill, but it didn’t start from a high place!

    • CliveM

      Removed to show contempt.

    • Don’t feed the Troll

      • CliveM

        Yes you are quite right.

        • CliveM

          He confessed to Carl

          • Where?

          • CliveM

            On the off chance you haven’t found it, the alien thread.

          • Ah, that’s was off Jack’s radar for a time.

      • Inspector General

        One is uncomfortable with anyone pointing fingers and yelling troll. If you don’t like what he’s saying, then put a counter argument. One would not like this site to end up as Pink News seemingly has. Self policed by the dregs that are sexually deviant Nazis…

        • CliveM

          Suddenly I’m conflicted, I see both arguments?

          He is also French!

          • Where did you discover that?

          • “Suddenly I’m conflicted, I see both arguments?”

            That’s the Anglican in you.

        • Are you being serious? How can one counter an argument that essentially piss*es on Christians who have given and still give their lives in the missionary fields with no conditions attached?

          • Inspector General

            Yes, one is deadly serious. You confront unwelcome criticism with superior content, wit and style. You might want to make a note of that last sentence for your own use. Once you start abandoning that premise, people start to wonder if the detractor’s words have any merit.

            One should remind you there is some on-line rotter who wishes to do exactly what you suggest to the Inspector, to wit, silence the source of his discomfort.

          • And sometimes it’s just best to ignore fools.

          • CliveM


            Does this rotter have an identity?

          • Inspector General

            No he does not, but if he persists, then one will have the security services on to him. He’s breaking the law, and he’ll make the front page…

          • CliveM


            Take heart, his obsession clearly shows you have got to him.

  • It must have given these M.P.s a warm glow of self-satisfaction to be able to give away large amounts of other people’s money to the Government’s pet projects.
    What right do these people have to be generous with my money? I expect that many people on this blog give as generously as they can to whichever charitable concerns they feel appropriate. Ordinary people have given away quite large amounts to <Children in Need or Comic Relief. Some of us have reservations about those two charities, but at least we have the choice to give or not to give. The Government simply confiscates our hard own cash and doles it out where it probably gets syphoned away into Al Qaida funds.
    No thank you, Mr. Scott. Let our politicians put their hands in their own pockets and give their money to whom they want, and let us do the same.

  • Doctor Crackles

    Gillan, I cannot agree with your glowing and self-congratulatory assessment.

    The 0.7% spending amount is in fact supported by only 7% of the nation’s voters. So, we have a house totally out of step with public opinion, no surprise there then.

    A dissenter, Mark Reckless, made some great comments yesterday:

    I fear Gillan that you are a big-stater with a CofE theological veneer.

  • CliveM

    I have no problem with well targeted aid. And in good years we should aim to give more the 0.7%. I do object to this law. We should not tie the hands of future parliaments to meet an arbitrary figure, when their circumstances may not allow them to do so.

    • Shadrach Fire

      No fear. I’m sure another Government can repeal it as quickly as it was written. I just hope the next Government can repeal the SSM Act.

      • CliveM

        I think any likely future Govt will find it very hard to repeal, getting the necessary majority will be difficult.

        • Merchantman

          Maybe there can be a mass repeal of all post 1997 legislation and we can start again.

          • CliveM

            Attractive but probably unfeasible. Not all the laws could be bad ones? Surely!

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        You mean like the present lot promised a Bonfire of the Quangos?

        • Royinsouthwest

          The bonfire was cancelled because otherwise the CO2 emissions would have changed our climate (for the better, probably).

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Ah dear Roy, I think you have a point there.

  • len

    Well Gillan how ” Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3;3) Many Christians have died to preserve the Word of God in a pure form and this call for unity makes ‘a good case’ for ecumenism at the cost of the Truth?.
    That aside; I have nothing against charity and giving but this giving is worse than useless it it doesn`t go to those for which it was intended.
    For example ;
    The UK is now paying for India’s Navy as it spends our £280m aid on warships and yet many in the UK are on the poverty line whilst still working!.
    And perhaps U.S. and European officials still believe that supporting those
    suffering from the Palestinians’ damaged economy outweighs the negative
    effect of the diversion of funds to terrorists who purchase weapons to continue the conflict?.

    • There’s no doubt that some of this aid has been very poorly targeted. It would be far better to address these failures than cut back using them as an excuse though.

  • Might this article have been penned by one who is a bit of a
    Guardian-reading, sandal-wearing, lentil-eating do-gooder with a
    misguided guilt complex to feel better about himself I wonder?

    An excellent speech in this debate was made by Mark Reckless here:

    He says and I fully agree with him, MPs are ignoring what their
    constituents want and not do solely what they want to do.

    If private individuals want to give that’s up to them and they can do so
    freely, but the country should not be held to ransom especially when
    we can ill afford it. He points out that we are borrowing money from
    other countries and paying hefty interest on this only to be giving
    it away in aid to other countries.

    Many of these countries do not need it or squander it. It’s crass
    stupidity isn’t it?

  • Inspector General

    One question about foreign aid that has never been settled is exactly what is it for. Is it to build up a ‘developing’ county’s economy, or is it poor relief for the inhabitants.

    Let’s say it’s the latter. In that case, we should have learnt 40 years ago, when vast presidential palaces were being erected with tremendous sums of foreign aid, mainly in Africa. Never give foreign aid directly to a government, if you don’t want some, most or all of it misappropriated.

    Ironically, when these palaces of grandeur were being erected, they used so much local labour and materials, that the damn things represented a substantial percentage of the country’s gross economic output of a year. So for a while at least, the hapless workers managed to eat daily, presumably what the aid was intended for.

    • CliveM

      It is meant to be both, depending on country and situation.

      But Govts of all parties have been lax in ensuring the money was properly spent.

    • Shadrach Fire

      As has been said, Government aid is very badly administered. They give it and say aren’t we good. The money would be much better administered by the charities who have no connection with the overseas Government.

  • Borrowing money against other peoples children to blow it on ego trips for triangulating politicians, rent seakers and con men is just slavery by another name. Its time people were honest about the abuse this bill represents

    • Inspector General

      Bloody good shed there. One is so envious…

      • CliveM


        Why would you need a shed, your not married? 🙂

        • Inspector General

          Clive. A shed is a thinking man’s destiny, is it not…

          • CliveM

            When your married, it’s a hideaway!

            I bought a decent shed this year. Worth every penny, a haven of tranquility! But you are right, it is a thinking mans destiny!

          • Inspector General

            Bachelor intellect, mid fifties, of the street fighting kind, seeks wife. Must have shed. Preference will be given to good sheds, er that would be women, who have a shed. Only sincere sheds, er one mean’s women, need apply…

          • CliveM

            Got your priorities right………

          • …. and no cats?

          • carl jacobs

            The Inspector already has a cat. He’s all talk when it comes to felines.

          • Yes, Jack recalls you outing him now.

          • Inspector General

            No cats.

          • IanCad

            Big money in posh sheds/garden offices/granny annexes.
            Starting a company do exactly that early next year. Most helpful of the rail industry to raise season ticket prices.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Don’t be disheartened Gillan. It’s not over till the fat lady sings. LOL.

    • Fat people are now protected under equality legislation and lady is a heterosexualist term.

      The correct phrase is:

      “It’s not over till the heavy (or overweight) earth creature, who self identifies as female, sings.”

  • Gillan, we do all agree with you on this:

    “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
    (Ps 133:1)


    • That’s why I love this verse!

      • Ah, but use it too often and we’ll demand a definition …. ;o))

  • sarky

    Sorry, but if you are unable to feed your own family, you don’t give part of your budget away to feed someone elses. Once you can feed your family and have a surplus, then you help others.

  • William Lewis

    This just shows how irrelevant, pathetic and amoral our democracy has become. The act can be repealed, the level is arbitrary and unnecessarily inflexible for both the supply and demand, most of the money doesn’t go to where it was intended and the people who will be paying for it probably aren’t even born yet.

    • Merchantman

      Loading another part of the guilt ridden white m..s burden onto future generations. Has anyone done the sums on what this is all costing (on interest on the borrowed money) for the next 1000 years even at the current very low interest rates?

  • Royinsouthwest

    What good is it if the aid ends up in the pockets of corrupt dictators and officials? The whole point of aid is to help needy people, not to make politicians look good. It is very easy to be generous with other people’s money.

    I am sure the money could do a great deal of good but how much effort will our politicians put into making sure that it goes where it is supposed to go and achieves what it is supposed to achieve?

    • William Lewis

      Better to minimise your tax liability within the law so as not to help fund corrupt regimes and instead donate to the, often Christian, charities that are actually making differences to the poverty of people’s lives.

      Two things I will say for Gordon Brown: He kept us out of the Euro and he championed tax free giving.

      • IanCad

        I’ll have to review my low opinion of GB then if that is so.
        Knew about the Euro but not about tax free giving.

  • DaveAtherton20

    If I may quote Zambian born Dr.Dambisa Moyo and her book “Dead Aid, Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa”

    On her website she adds: “In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse.”

    Philip Davies is quite right.

  • IanCad

    It is good to give to the less well-off.
    I’m not sure though, that it is the role of government to take from the taxpayers, monies they themselves could more efficiently donate to the charities of their choice. If indeed, they would wish to contribute anything.
    I would like to see a detailed accounting as to where exactly the money goes.
    I’m sure there is such online. Anyone have a link?

  • Thomas Keningley

    Thank goodness, I thought this was written by the bish himself at first.

    Of course it’s good to give money to the poorest people in the world. But of course it isn’t the government’s job to do that. That’s up to the generosity of the British people. The idea that it is the role of the state is ludicrous.

  • In 2 minds on this. Giving to the poor is a Gospel imperative, but you don’t give the money for your children’s shoes to a drunk for vodka. Government is borrowing to give to countries like Pakistan. I am suspicious of the populist ‘charity begins at home…they’re spending it all on private jets’..etc calls but am concerned that some ‘aid’ does more harm than good.

    Not as simple an issue as some say.

    • CliveM

      Agree completely.

  • len

    I find it somewhat staggering to find out what a terrible state the economies of European Countries are .The UK debt is apparently 1.4 trillion Pounds.How is that deficit ever going to come down as so many ministers are promising?.
    The financial system is spiralling out of control and to borrow money to give out in aid seems reckless to me.
    We are living in’ cloud cuckoo land’ and the clock one day is going to stop ticking.