David Davis calls on the Government to scrap international aid targets


As reported in the Daily Mail:
Pressure on David Cameron grows as Tory MPs slam his controversial overseas aid spending

David Cameron was facing mounting pressure over his controversial overseas aid programme last night after a senior Tory MP branded it ‘public relations above real generosity’.

Former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis urged the Prime Minister to scrap the fixed target for how much Britain spends a year on international aid.
Mr Davis said the UK should return to a policy of providing financial help if and when it is needed, adding: ‘You can’t calculate generosity.’

Separately, fellow Tory MP Nigel Evans – a member of the Commons international development committee – said Ministers were ‘in the last chance saloon’ on wasteful aid spending.

The interventions came ahead of tomorrow’s crucial Commons debate on aid, which was sparked by The Mail on Sunday’s online petition, signed by more than 230,000 people, calling on the Government to reverse its legal commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of UK national income on foreign aid every year.

Last week, it emerged that International Development Secretary Justine Greening is overseeing a review into British aid spending in the Palestinian territories after concerns that British aid had found its way into the pockets of terrorists.

Mr Davis said last night: ‘I’m all in favour of helping people in an emergency, but making a law that sets an arbitrary target is putting public relations above real generosity. There should not be a set target. The Government should spend the money on what matters to people at the time – that will be a lot in one year and a little in the next.

‘The Government should be ready to consider helping people out when they are flooded, whether it’s in Dhaka or Devon.’

Mr Evans added: ‘The Department for International Development is in the last-chance saloon with this one.

‘They are being put on notice that unless they step up to greater scrutiny of how this money is spent, I am afraid they are going to lose the support of Middle England for this 0.7 per cent target.’

Ms Greening’s department has insisted that UK aid is ‘spent where it is most needed and is subject to rigorous internal and external checks and scrutiny at all stages’.