I saw outright aid scandals amid aid spending pledge, West Norfolk MP claims - but he backs move to make a 2pc defence budget the law
PUBLISHED: 17:16 23 October 2015 | UPDATED: 17:18 23 October 2015
© Archant Norfolk 2015
Former foreign office minister Henry Bellingham said he had seen outright aid scandals amid a 0.7pc aid target - but said he backs moves to put a 2pc defence budget into law.
The West Norfolk MP warned that the nation’s security had never been more important then in the 30 years since the end of the cold war in a debate in Westminster.
“Many of us had a rosy vision of what the world might have looked like in this part of the 21st century, but how wrong we were,” he said.
Mr Bellingham said he had been an opponent of a similar move to make it a legal duty to spend 0.7pc of GDP on international aid, claiming he had seen “the good, the very good, the bad, the ugly and the downright bad in Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere”.
“I lost count of the number of heads of DFID I saw on my travels round Africa who told me that they would struggle to get good-quality aid out of the door. We were looking for programmes and partners in many of those countries, and I was warned on a number of occasions that there were aid programmes that would not deliver and on which mistakes would be made and things would go badly wrong. I can think of at least four examples in Africa where there had been outright scandals involving British aid,” he added. He did not specify the details.
Mr Bellingham said there was “no logic” in ring-fencing and encapsulating in law the 0.7pc aid budget unless the same was done for defence.
Former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth - who is behind the bill - warned of an “increasingly dangerous world”.
“The turmoil created by the Arab spring, the Syrian uprising, the Libyan campaign, Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimea, which itself followed the illegal annexation of a part of Georgia in 2008, and the rise of ISIL has transformed the international landscape, but that is not the end of it. The jury is out on Iran’s intentions and North Korea remains an utterly irresponsible dictatorship, determined to develop further weapons of mass destruction. The stand-off between India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers, from time to time threatens to destabilise that important region.”
He also warned of the dangers China was posing across the Far East.