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We must keep our promise to the world’s poorest people

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published a report earlier today on ‘The Economic Impact and Effectiveness of Development Aid’. The report recommended that the government should drop its commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on aid from 2013.

Seven years ago the UK led countries in pledging to spend 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development assistance. It’s a promise the world made to itself. It’s a promise I’m proud of. It’s a promise we should stick by.

And when we are talking about numbers, and percentages, and targets, we shouldn’t forget what we are really talking about – improving the lives of the poorest people in our world.

A new report published by ONE last week showed how many lives would be changed if the UK government keeps its aid promise. It’s a big difference – it would support 15.9 million children to go to school, vaccinate over 80 million children against life threatening diseases, saving at least 1.4 million lives, enable 5.8 million births to take place safely, saving the lives of 50,000 mothers, ensure better nutrition for 9.6 million people, and the list goes on.

We have a record to be proud of – but there is still so much more to do. I have seen that for myself as a member of the House of Commons International Development Committee. Most recently in the newly-independent country of South Sudan where I visited a primary school to find out more about UK supported efforts to ensure that girls and older children are able to attend school.

Those children need us to keep our promise to the world’s poorest people.