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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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SNP Highlight UK's £87.5 Billion of 'Missing Aid' Ahead of Westminster Debate

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


UK AID FAILURE IN CONTRAST TO RECORD OF SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRIES

Ahead of a Westminster debate (today) on Scotland's role in the UK's international development programme after 2014 , the SNP has highlighted House of Commons library research which shows the financial impact of the UK failing to meet its aid targets for over 40 years.

The research, which calculates the annual financial gap between the UK’s aid promises and what they actually spent, shows cumulative missing aid of £87.5 billion since 1970, when the UN set the target to spend 0.7% of wealth on aid. This year – for the first time in 43 years – the UK has at last budgeted to meet the target, but has backtracked the promise in the coalition agreement to enshrine the target in statute – opening up the prospect of the UK missing its aid targets in future years.

Successive Conservative and Labour Westminster governments failed to meet the target, despite devastating levels of global poverty. In contrast Sweden met the target in 1974 and by 1975 was joined by the Netherlands. Norway and Denmark reached it in 1976 and 1978 respectively, and all four countries have met it ever since. Luxembourg joined the group in 2000.

Commenting ahead of the Westminster Hall debate, SNP International Development Spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP, who is a former Campaigns Manager for Oxfam, highlighted the impact of the UK breaking promises on aid – and outlined the role an independent Scotland can play.

Commenting Dr Whiteford said:

“This House of Commons research lays bare the decades of broken promises by the UK. Cumulatively those years of missed targets show a staggering £87.5 billion of missing aid over the last 42 years.

“We know aid saves lives – be it in humanitarian emergencies or in long terms efforts to get children into school or to improve healthcare. Every day almost 19,000 under-fives die from poverty-related conditions, and around 800 women die in childbirth or from pregnancy complications. The UK’s missing aid reflects a huge missed opportunity to both save lives and improve lives.

“Small independent nations like our Scandinavian neighbours stepped up to the challenge and met their promises decades ago, and an independent Scotland would do the same. Furthermore we would enshrine the 0.7% target in legislation – something which was in the coalition agreement but which the UK Government have not brought forward for legislation.

“In contrast to the cross-party support in Scotland, there are those on the Tory backbenches in Westminster who are opposed to meeting the 0.7% target, and lobbied hard for it to be dropped. They seem to forget that such absolute poverty is a political issue. Almost all these deaths are preventable through low-cost interventions; to stand aside, to pretend it's nothing to do with us, or convince ourselves we can't make a difference runs counter to a current that runs deep through Scottish history and culture.

“With independence we can ensure we meet our promises to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.”

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