Skills and Post-16 Education Bill – Amendment 82 is vital

Two weeks ago towards the end of the Parliamentary activities for this Summer there was a debate taking place in the House of Lords on the various amendments for the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill. It is clearly important for us to be aware of these issues as the only way of ensuring that such elements can get adopted is for the Education Department to adopt them as tragically it proves almost impossible for Parliament to be able to change decisions taken by the Government. Two of the Educational Ministers live here in Sussex, and so Gillian Keegan and Nick Gibb need to be persuaded and along with them, Peter Kyle who is the Labour Educational team member who is also based in Sussex. As it happens this case was also raised by one of our local members of the House of Lords who made a very clear statement. Her name is Baroness Whitaker and she was responding to an ex Minister who is based in Surrey so all of these people are relatively local. At the beginning of one of her comments Baroness Whitaker said

My Lords, I support all the amendments in this group, particularly the detail of Amendment 82 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Baker of Dorking, because of its focus on the years before further education comes into play. These are the years when choices are determined and motivation aroused. If we want to make a success of further education and produce the skills our economy would so much thrive on, we need to extend the reach of these opportunities to all our children and attract those who might not otherwise have the confidence or aspiration.

So that of course raises the question of what is Amendment 82 so one then needs to read the text from Lord Baker of Dorking. Just like Baroness Whitaker the whole of his statement regarding the amendment is too long for this blog and so the whole text can be found here. However here is a vital elements of what he had to say.

I declare my interest as chairman of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust. In 2017, the Government accepted my amendment to the Technical and Further Education Act to allow providers of alternative education, such as FE colleges, apprenticeship providers, private learning and training course providers, and university technical colleges, to go into secondary schools and explain to students the various alternative education pathways for their education and training. At the time this was looked on as a breakthrough in careers guidance.

When my old department was devising the legislation, I asked it to make it a statutory duty for schools to provide such meetings, but I was told that the Department for Education would depend on giving ministerial guidance to all secondary schools, and the secondary schools would follow. The advice was largely disregarded by schools and, when complaints were made to Ministers about schools refusing access to specific providers, such as university technical colleges, the department did not act on these complaints to insist that the meetings should take place. There has been no help from the department for the last three years.

This amendment would make it a statutory duty for all secondary schools to provide meetings with their students between 1 September and 28 February in each academic year. These dates are essential because school recruitment lists end on 31 March. By then, students will have selected which school/education pathway they wish to attend. The amendment specifically provides for years 8 and 9, year 11, and year 13, which means that 13 and 14 year-olds, 15 and 16 year-olds, and 18 year-olds will be advised of the various alternatives available for their education and training.

So we now need to call on Gillian, Nick and Peter to accept amendment 82!

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Caroline Lucas and Sally-Ann Hart discussed COP26

The last active day in the House of Commons before their Summer break took place just over a week ago with a very important debate as part of the day. Thankfully two of our Sussex MPs took part in the session, one of whom was Caroline Lucas who is widely recognised as being a national specialist within Parliament on the environment. As it happens, she was the first person to speak following the MP who had organised the debate on the subject of COP26. Caroline referred to how on the following day there would be merely 100 days before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference would take place. So that means that today is 90 days before that event will begin. Tragically the COP26 event was delayed by a year due to the COVID situation across the earth. However, given that this Summer has been the hottest in modern history, perhaps the Government will go much further in its environmental commitments than they would have done a year earlier.

Over the last few days Professor Liz Bentley, the chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society said the world was already 1.1C degrees to 1.2C degrees warmer than pre-industrial temperatures. Given that 32.2C degrees was recorded at Heathrow Airport in west London that seems very challenging but the comment from Ms Bentley was that

“If you take that [1.1 to 1.2] up by another 0.3C, these heatwaves are just going to become much more intense”; “We’re likely to see 40C in the UK although we have never seen those kinds of temperatures [before]”.

Along with the heat the amount of intense rain which has impacted our nation and indeed here in Sussex along with other parts of Europe is also part of the major change to our weather experience. As Caroline Lucas stated very clearly in the first few words of her statement

We urgently need clear direction from Government detailing how they plan to decarbonise each and every sector, raising global ambition and giving other countries a clear reason for why they too should go further and faster in their national commitments to limit global heating. Failure to act is not just dithering—it is dangerous and often deadly. Turning to some of the goals set out by the COP26 unit, the first is to: “Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach”.

It seems vital that by the time the next 90 days are over and COP26 begins that all of our MPs will have added their voices to the call for a clear direction. The other Sussex MP who participated in the debate on the 22nd July was Sally-Ann Hart who is the MP for Hastings and Rye. Her comment included these words

Making a success of the [COP26] conference and delivering for everyone across the globe is more important than ever. Covid-19 has shown how fragile humanity is and that we face some challenges together, as the human race. Whether the challenge is covid-19 or climate change, we need to tackle it together, internationally.

She went on to also refer to the 1.5C issue so we have a very clear call from two of our 16 local MPs to respond to this issue and to work across the world on these themes. My own view is that given we left the EU a few months ago that actually the effort to work with other nations will prove to be much more difficult for our nation than would have been the case. Given that MPs are all based in their constituencies until the 6th September when they will return to Parliament, it would seem very sensible for all of them to communicate with the people they represent. They need to let us all know how they will add to these calls from Caroline Lucas and Sally-Ann Hart. Here in Sussex, we have five Government members and so perhaps they can unpack the views of the Government as to how COP26 will tackle the climate in partnership with other nations in our world. Over the last few years apart from Caroline who regularly speaks about COP26 the others have referred to it a total of 7 times together. It was fascinating what response one of them received back in February 2020 before COVID and the increase in temperature and rain levels. Henry Smith from Crawley received an answer from Heather Wheeler who was a Minister:

The UK was disappointed at the lack of progress made at COP25 in Madrid. The UK and Italian diplomatic efforts will be squarely focused on achieving a successful COP26. COP is about more than negotiations; it is about real change happening across countries, civil society and the private sector. These broader elements will be a primary focus of COP26.

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Watch tonights Countryfile and then sign my petition

This e-Petition calls for the Government to reverse its decision not to fund charities such as FareShare. If you would like to find out more about why the petition was set out check out this page on this blog back on the 22nd June. The petition was set out on 29th June and so far after a great deal of activity we have achieved 670 signatures. We clearly need many more to pressurise the Government so please do consider signing it. Tonight on Countryfile here we can see the Gleaning activities that take place in Sussex to enable food that has grown by Farmers but could not be released commercially. The Gleaning teams then release the food they gather to Sussex FareShare. So here is the explanation for the Petition

In April the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee called on the Government to provide ongoing funding to redistribute surplus food from the farmgate and across the supply chain to food aid providers. In June the Government said there were no plans for further grants. This should change. A Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair told the Committee “that the Government takes food waste very seriously” and that she expects “this to be an area in which we continue to work as Government”. We need the Government to provide public funding to enable the many agencies to carry out the work necessary to prevent food waste and improve food security.

The reference to farmgate relates to Gleaning activities which have been ongoing for many years.

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Jacob RM wants Freedom – Freddie, James and Albie!

Last night on Radio 4 in the Any Questions programme that is available here, Jacob Rees Mogg who was one of the people taking part made a very clear statement in response to the first question. Although the question was focused on the demand for ID provision for nightclubs under the title of vaccine passports, being a man who regularly goes much further than the questions requires, Jacob did certainly do so on this occasion. As it happened several of the other people who responded were far less satisfied about the ID provision for nightclubs than Rees-Mogg appeared to be. Even so his comments did not fully resolve why the ID system is being expected and will work for the nightclubs. However his extensive response made it very clear that ID is not appropriate in our nation in any other setting. Although he did not state that he was responding to elections the comments were a clear rejection by Jacob Rees-Mogg for ID in voting which is something that nearly 102,000 people have signed up for. The signatures related to the petition that is entitled

Scrap the Voter ID requirement introduced in the Election Integrity Bill

The text for the petition then goes on to say

Starting it the 2023 Local Elections, the government plans to force every UK voter to present ID upon voting. This is a grave breach of the democratic process and will make it harder for those on lower incomes and people of colour to vote, as these groups are less likely to possess an official ID. There were 34 allegations of voter fraud in the 2019 election, and one case of proven fraud. Out of 48 million registered voters. There is no need for us to add an extra layer of bureaucracy and complexity to the voting process. Our elections are the only thing which allow us a true say in our government; voting should be the most open and inclusive process possible.

That was a petition set out by Freddie Mallinson and it is available here for anyone who would like to sign it. Sadly Parliament has chosen not to discuss it again, primarily because that theme was discussed on the 13th July which is available here. Ironically the petition broke over the 100,000 level two days earlier on the 11th July.

When it comes to the nightclubs I have a friend called Albie Saliba who runs the Shooshh nightclub and he may be interested to know about the words that came from Jacob Rees-Mogg and also that a person called James Marsh set out a petition on 23rd July which so far has achieved nearly 300 signatures. The Petition which is available here is entitled

Do not require Covid vaccination passports for crowded events

It goes on to state

Stop plans to require people to show proof of having been double jabbed in order to enter nightclubs and other crowded events. Allow a negative test to be sufficient, letting the discretion of personal choice and responsibility come into play. Introducing the proof of vaccination in order to enter crowded events is taking away our freedom of choice and body autonomy. Giving that people may choose not to have the vaccine for various reasons such as religion or health, it is discriminatory to require this in order to enter crowded events. A negative test a few days and on the day of the event should be sufficient for a democratic country, allowing people to choose what they do with their body.

Sadly I could not find a photograph of James Marsh who has written out this second petition.

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Sign this petition to release funds to charities like FareShare

Thursday of last week was the last day in Parliament before the MPs closed their Westminster Offices. One of the MPs who stood up to ask a question was the Labour MP for Liverpool, West Derby called Ian Byrne. Along with Ian Byrne another Labour MP called Luke Pollard who is the Shadow Secretary to DEFRA took part in the discussion. The Conservative Minister who responded to both of their questions or comments was George Eustice who is the DEFRA Minister. It is very clear to George that a group of charities called FareShare needs to be funded. The irony is that Ian Byrne is a member of the EFRA Committee which back in April called for funds to be released to Provide additional funding for redistributing surplus food and after more than two months the Government turned this request away and failed to do so. So clearly we need George Eustice to review that. One way of persuading him to do so could be achieved by getting 100,000 people to sign this petition which I set out just a month ago. So far I have managed to get 630 signatures from my friends and contacts. We now need to raise this to a few more signatures. The Petition is available here. It states

“In April the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee called on the Government to provide ongoing funding to redistribute surplus food from the farmgate and across the supply chain to food aid providers. In June the Government said there were no plans for further grants. This should change.”

So now back to some of the questions and answers from Ian and George.

Ian Byrne: Department for Work and Pensions data has revealed the shocking fact that, pre-covid, 42% of households on universal credit were food insecure. With the planned removal of the £20 uplift to universal credit, what impact assessment has the Secretary of State’s Department completed on the impact of removing the uplift regarding the food security of the 6 million people on universal credit?

George Eustice: We regularly monitor household spending on food. It is important to note that last year household spending on food among the poorest 20% of households was the lowest on record, at about 14%. That said, we absolutely recognise that there are individual households that struggle to afford food. That is why the Government have brought forward a number of initiatives over the past 12 months to support them through groups such as FareShare, as well as the holiday activities and food scheme.

Clearly we need the Government to be persuaded to bring forward another initiative which is to help fund the FareShare charities to prevent surplus food from being destroyed or dumped.

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British Sign Language needs a public response

On Monday there was a response from Nick Gibb to a written question set out by Daisy Cooper who is the Liberal Democratic Education spokesperson. The question related to British Sign Language (BSL) in education settings. Although that question did not have any obvious connection to todays Global Educational Summit it was very clear that this theme has a bearing not only on English educational sector but it is much wider. The comment from Boris Johnson this morning on twitter was “Improving education is the best way for countries to #BuildBackBetter from the pandemic. At today’s Global Education Summit, I’ll be urging leaders to #FundEducation so young people around the world get the opportunities they deserve. @GPforEducation #GES2021” and it is certainly clear that the BSL is one of the clear ways of improving education in the UK. Unfortunately although Nick Gibb did refer to a call from “The Department (DFE) plans to consult publicly in due course” there is no indication what due course means. Let us hope that his Department will set out a more specific set of responses very soon. So here is the question and answer from Daisy and Nick. Let us hope that things will improve in the near future.

DC: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allowing students to study British Sign Language as a language option in Key Stage 3.

NG: The Government has recognised British Sign Language (BSL) as a language since 2003. BSL is not a compulsory part of the National Curriculum, although schools are free to offer BSL as part of their wider school curriculum or as part of a varied programme of extra-curricular activities. Some schools may also offer accredited BSL qualifications to support pupils’ achievements in the language. ​The Department is aiming to introduce a GCSE in BSL as soon as possible, provided it meets the rigorous requirements that apply to all GCSEs. Officials are currently working closely with subject experts and Ofqual to develop draft subject content. The Department plans to consult publicly in due course. Officials are also engaging with Ofqual to ensure the subject content can be assessed appropriately and will be working with stakeholders to ensure that a wide range of views is reflected.

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A classic example of PM Incompetence for Policing

There are many people inside and outside the mainstream political setting who do not consider the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner as being very effective. It is sad that they do so as clearly when Independent credible people are elected they are able to do a great deal to hold the Police and indeed the other Criminal systems away from party politics and to also begin to improve the connectivity of the agencies and seek to improve the way in which the complex issues get resolved. The Police Authorities were an alternative way of doing so, but complex committees sometimes presented as many challenges as others resolved and there were clear indications of how dominant party politics and their approach towards Independents were very inadequate. By the same token some of the party political PCC’s are also willing to step away from their party politics although they are very much in the minority. Sadly earlier this year two men who I have met lost their roles this Summer. Martyn Underhill stepped down personally from Dorset PCC and Martin Surl was voted out by a dominance of the Conservative Party. However all of this is disconnected with the approach that Boris Johnson is taking to reject the role of PCCs and ignore the views of Chief Constables and indeed the Police Federation and possibly Priti Patel and instead he is setting out his new ideas that are completely incompetent. These must disturb the people who voted for PCCs as well as those of us who would want to see a very different way for the Police services to be managed.

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Very clear arguments for 0.7% especially for Yemen

Although it is a fortnight ago since our MPs had a debate on Foreign Aid and the result of the votes did not tragically provide a good outcome it is still worthwhile repeating some of the words and indeed we can call on MPs who claim to be supporting the need for Peace in Yemen to challenge their voting decision. The positive words on the 13th July came from Tim Loughton who is the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham. He along with Peter Bottomley who is the MP for West Worthing voted for the Foreign Aid to be returned to 0.7%. They were joined in that approach by the three MPs for Brighton and Hove. So a total of five Sussex MPs voted for 0.7% but sadly the other 11 Sussex MPs voted for 0.5%. As it happens five of those MPs are members of the Government, but nevertheless there are six who could have been persuaded if they had listened to Tim’s statement which was

The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point about Yemen, although it should be acknowledged that the UK gave aid to Yemen well in excess of what we had budgeted for, and that we have a very generous record. Does he agree that it is not only a question of emergency aid? If we are to find peace in that country, we will need to give aid for its reconstruction to keep it out of civil war and famine again, so it is entirely the wrong time not to step up with the money necessary for a lasting peace.

As it happens of the six other Conservative MPs who all voted to retain the Foreign Aid as being merely 0.5%, three have never commented about Yemen before in the House of Commons. However the other three have done so which does rather indicate that they should have responded to Tim Loughton’s comment in their voting. Sadly that did not happen. One of them is Andrew Griffith who in a slightly strange sense literally a year earlier on 13th July 2020 stated

I am proud that so many young people in my constituency have raised the situation in Yemen with me. Saudi Arabia itself is a young country, with half its population under the age of 25. Will the Minister assure me that he will continue to raise human rights with his counterparts?

Then in October 2016 there was a debate on Yemen and indeed a vote which tragically was opposed by the Government and indeed all Conservative MPs apart from Chris White who sadly lost his seat in 2017. One of the Sussex MPs who did participate in the debate was Nusrat Ghani even though she voted against the Labour proposal at the time and she voted in favour of 0.5% two weeks ago. However she stated as part of her statement in October 2016.

The situation in Yemen is dire. As the House has already heard, nearly 7,000 people have lost their lives as a result of the conflict, and more than 14.4 million people in Yemen are food-insecure. The recent ceasefire provided a welcome few days of relief, allowing much-needed humanitarian aid through to areas that simply cannot be reached while clashes are going on, as was passionately noted by Keith Vaz.

A true and lasting solution to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen must come from a longer, stable ceasefire during which efforts are made by both sides to agree a long-term, balanced peace deal that the people of Yemen have invested in themselves. I strongly support the Government’s work at the UN and, through our ambassador, Edmund Fitton-Brown, in Yemen. We should be proud that we have contributed £100 million to the UN’s humanitarian response, making us the fourth largest donor. I am pleased that our ambassador was present at the Kuwait talks. Our support for the UN special envoy, both politically and financially, is also extremely welcome.

And then a few years earlier Henry Smith who is the other West Sussex Conservative MP who supported the 0.5% decision even though he is not part of the Government referred to Yemen on 24th April 2018

The current situation in Yemen is not just a civil war or a sectarian conflict; it is also in many ways a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In addition to diplomatic pressure being brought to bear on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, what pressure is being brought to bear on the allies of Tehran and that side of the conflict?

Later on in the debate on the 13th July Tim Loughton made a more indepth comment and perhaps it is appropriate to end on it here

I welcome the fact that this Government have brought this motion before the House today, but I am afraid that I am going to vote against it, and to restore the 0.7% commitment. I am worried that the new criteria would only have been met in one of the past seven years, and goodness knows when it will be met again. Effectively, we are locking in 0.5% for the foreseeable future. I absolutely acknowledge the huge generosity of the UK taxpayer and the contribution by COVAX and others, but we cannot stop now.

I voted and campaigned for that 0.7% commitment, and was really proud that a Conservative-led Government enshrined it in law. I proudly stood on a manifesto to keep it in 2015, 2017, and 2019. Our 2019 manifesto said that

“We are proud of our peace-building and humanitarian efforts around the world, particularly in war-torn or divided societies, and of our record in helping to reduce global poverty” and “We will proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on development”.

There were no riders that that was dependent on the state of finances, on whether debt was going up or down, or on how much revenue the Treasury was bringing in. There was no small print, no ifs and no buts, and I believe in standing by manifesto pledges. It would have been even more unsatisfactory if we had not at least had this vote today.

Everyone has talked about difficult decisions. It was specifically to avoid short-term difficult decisions that we enshrined that commitment in law, and crafted a careful formula so that the money went up in good times and down in bad times, as is happening. However, this will be a double whammy, as has been said: funding is going to go down because the economy has contracted, and it is going to go down further because the formula is being changed as well. Covid has impacted severely on many countries whose health systems are far less resilient than ours at dealing with the pandemic, and as we know, global pandemics need globally co-ordinated action, including us all facing the challenges posed by the new strains mutating in far-flung corners of the world. The UK plays a key part in that and must continue to do so, not just with vaccines.

However, this decision is also a false economy. Abruptly pulling projects part way through—pulling funding for the malaria programme in Nigeria, which is supposed to go on until 2024; cutting £48 million from the NHS overseas training scheme, when people are being trained in important posts in developing countries; the £80 million cut to water sanitation in the middle of a pandemic; and the circumstances in Yemen that I mentioned earlier—makes no financial sense and increases uncertainty.

Global Britain is not just about projecting military and diplomatic influence, or pursuing new trading and investment partnerships beyond this continent. Complementary to global Britain is the exercise of soft power, which is hugely important and has proved highly influential and effective for UK plc. Our world-leading commitment to 0.7%, enshrined in law, is an important and, I have to say, very cost-effective part of that. Climate change is a major focus of it—we are chairing COP, for goodness’ sake. What message does this reduction to 0.5% send to the rest of the world? This is a false economy at the wrong time.

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The Nationality and Borders Bill needs reconsideration

Last week all of the Sussex MPs responded to the second reading of the Nationality and Borders Bill which is in response to asylum seekers who have been welcomed into our nation in many generations. Sadly, all of the Conservative MPs supported the Bill and they also rejected the amendment which the two Labour MPs and Caroline Lucas approved, but which was unsuccessful. However, two of the Sussex MPs did speak up and although they voted to accept the Bill and stated concerning aspects, they also made comments that indicate challenges that the Bill includes. The amendment from the Labour Shadow Home Secretary was very clear and it included the following words

the Bill breaches the 1951 Refugee Convention, does not address the Government’s failure since 2010 to competently process asylum applications which has resulted in a backlog of cases and increased costs to the taxpayer, fails to deal with the serious and organised crime groups who are profiteering from human trafficking and modern slavery, does not address the failure to replace the Dublin III regulations to return refugees to safe countries, fails to re-establish safe routes and help unaccompanied child refugees.

This challenge which is very clear did not prevent the two Sussex MPs from making the following appalling comments. Tim Loughton from East Worthing stated

the [asylum and immigration] process is now being routinely bypassed by those who come across the channel illegally, usually because they can afford to pay people traffickers.

Later on Sally-Ann Hart from Hasting stated

It is well known that refugees seeking asylum in the UK are not penalised for entering illegally.

This is one of the most extreme aspects of what the Government claims and they need to be challenged as it is clearly not the case as our nation has welcomed asylum seekers. However thankfully Tim and Sally-Ann did also make some comments which need to be promoted. Tim stated

it is a controversial Bill and it will need close scrutiny in Committee. But something desperately needs to be done, because our asylum and immigration system is broken.

He also said

for genuine refugees, especially children in potentially dangerous situations, the process takes far too long. There is a lack of urgency from immigration officials on the ground in the country of application or from the Home Office here.

The positive comment from Sally-Ann was

Every day, thousands of migrants and refugees leave their countries in search of refuge, safety and better lives. Refugees are unique in their plight. They have fled their country and are unable or unwilling to return because of war, violence or fear of violence, or being persecuted because of their race, religion, sexuality, nationality or political opinion.

All of these words deserve our applause and all of the Conservative Sussex MPs should acknowledge them, and reflect on the words fitted into the Labour amendment. They may have voted against it but the words were very clear and they have time over the Summer now that Parliament has closed down for the next five weeks to reconsider that statement.

Clearly this is a time for all of the MPs along with members of the Government to have a break and refresh themselves as well as to spend longer periods in their constituencies. Last Summer was the first time for many years that meeting activities did not take place in the usual way and indeed this Summer may also be very limited, despite the fact that most of us have had one or two vaccines. However, let us hope that some opportunities will arise so that we can connect with our MPs, even if we cannot invite them to our public events. It was interesting to read a few days ago that the Roman Catholic Churches across the UK and particularly here in Sussex and Surrey have been working very hard to provide opportunities for local churches to meet with their MPs using video conferencing techniques such as Google, Zoom and Teams. I hope this will encourage all of our local MPs who are prepared to engage with their electors to ensure that groups such as charities and community groups including churches along with business networks can either meet with them face to face or take part on video conference facilities. At the end of last week I attended a very enjoyable Chamber of Commerce event for the first time since the beginning of 2020 but understandably several people who had planned to attend had to cancel at the last minute. One of the speakers mentioned that she had also been to another event a few days earlier and people enjoyed meeting after so much time. It would be helpful for MPs to let their communities know if they will take part in meetings or online events this Summer.

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As fast as we can – is not genuine Boris

Last week in Prime Ministers Question time Peter Bottomley from West Worthing asked a question about the Foreign Aid situation following the debate and vote which meant that the Government was refusing to go back to 0.7% despite its promise in its 2019 manifesto. So Peter set out a proposal which many of us would not be inspired by, but at least it was intended to be a way forward for Foreign Aid that would increase it modestly each year from now until it returned to its 0.7%. So the response from Boris started off implying and indeed stating “As fast as we can” however that was then added to by the words “and when fiscal conditions allow.” which of course makes the first five words entirely nonsensical. Let us see how long fast as we can will be!

Peter: It should be obvious that the Cabinet is as inclusive as the English football team, and I think that some of these criticisms are misplaced. Mr Speaker, I welcome your words at the beginning of Tuesday’s debate and the Prime Minister’s first paragraph on the Treasury minute from Monday. Can we agree that a vote in this House does not amend an Act of Parliament passed by both Houses? Are we expecting a similar debate in another place? Can I suggest to the Prime Minister that, instead of leaping from 0.5% to 0.7% at some stage in the future, we step towards it, because a 40% increase in one year would be ludicrous? Perhaps the Chancellor could consider going to 0.55%, 0.6%, 0.65% and then 0.7%.

Boris: I thank my hon. Friend very much for his opening point. On official development assistance, of course I can give him the reassurance that we will continue to follow the law, and he will have heard clearly what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor had to say from this Dispatch Box and what I have said. We want to return to 0.7% as fast as we can, and when fiscal conditions allow.

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