We are also still one of the largest economies in the world and, notwithstanding the uncertainties posed by “Brexit” if we cannot afford 0.7% of our GDO to help some of the most disadvantaged people in some of the poorest countries in the world then we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. To fail would be distasteful, shameful and not what ought to be expected as an example from a great nation that is the foremost country in the Commonwealth. I want no part of any mean-spirited approach to our international commitments.
It is certainly correct that countries that can afford their own space and nuclear programmes, for example, ought not to be receiving assistance from us even though they may also embrace some low living standards: at that level nations have to take responsibility for their own spending priorities and should put healthcare and clean water supplies and sanitation and education before space rockets.
Neither must we line the pockets of Dictators with offshore bank accounts while their own people starve. We have to ensure that every pound taken from a British taxpayer`s pocket to help others less fortunate is well-targeted. We can be proud of the success of our emergency and disaster-relief programmes, of the assistance that we have provided to those fleeing from war zones and living in refugee camps and of the work of our armed forces helping to save lives around the world.
This is not entirely altruistic. We contribute, through assistance with the development of democracy and services, to the security of the global village. Poverty breeds strife and strife breeds a fertile breeding ground for the acts of terrorism that sometimes reach very close to home. Building bridges – literally and through business investments –is to our mutual advantage. But the bottom line, for me, is that we can and should help those less fortunate than ourselves and that we should take pride in doing so.
There are those that sneer at the money that we spend on overseas aid or, at the very least, say that “charity begins at home and we ought to be spending the money here”.
Yes, money is tight and yes, we still have to make savings. The ‘National Debt` is still higher than we would wish and we need to spend more on our own healthcare, education, defence and on reducing the deficit. But under Conservative government our finances have recovered significantly, we are starting to pay our way again, our standard of living is, by the yardstick of most counties high and as a result of the work of our Chancellors we are in better shape that many of our European neighbours.