Bishop of Derby supports Bill to enshrine UK aid commitment in law

On 23rd January 2015, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in the Second Reading debate of the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill. The Bill is a Private Members’ Bill which was introduced in the House of Commons by Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore. The Bishop argued that enshrining the 0.7% GNI contribution in law was a statement of the UK’s values, and showed a committment to the development of all states and the flourishing of all people.

DerbyThe Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the Government and the leaders of all the major parties on, at a time of amazing austerity and financial challenge, this bold commitment to a generous settlement in our public finances for the support of those in developing countries, especially the poorest of the poor. As we have heard, the 0.7% is an international target and therefore a very important sign that we play our part in an international community in a responsible way. Many activists, and church members in particular, are concerned for us to make that witness to global citizenship, and see this as an important issue. We have heard that it is important for us to be able to plan and be efficient and effective in the deployment of these resources. We have also heard that it creates more stable and peaceful societies, and gives us better communities with which to trade.

Some of your Lordships were in a debate in December about soft power. This is a very important sign to the world of a narrative of a generous country that has high values. We need that narrative in an age when our young people are being radicalised by other, more violent and narrow-minded narratives. This is very important sign not only to our own society but across the world, especially to young people, about generosity and commitment to others. Some of us, too, were involved in the legislation proposed for slavery. I met a young man who, when he was six, was sold by his family into slavery in the fishing trade in Africa because they were so poor. I met a young woman who, when she was 12, was sold into sex slavery in Nigeria because her family were poor. This kind of policy and this kind of committed, regular and properly audited investment in building societies across the world joins up with other concerns we have, such as the slavery issue, and the fact that it is not just an issue here but across the globe.

Like my colleague, the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Williams, I am privileged to be a trustee of Christian Aid. The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, gave some statistics, and we are proud to be involved in the provision of clean water, schools and financial services, and in working with women and girls. They all provide stability and capacity for local societies to be healthy, peaceful and forward-looking. The OECD estimates that for every pound spent on some of these enterprises, developing countries gain an additional £350 in increased revenue, which shows how effective targeted and planned investment can be. Christian Aid is proud to work with DfID in programmes such as those to eradicate malaria; to give priority to women and girls, as the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, said; and to provide mobile technology to help health services develop appropriately in rural areas. All those things need consistent and planned investment, as does the response to climate change. There are more and more signs of flooding in El Salvador, for example, and more and more problems relating to a lack of water supply in Kenya as the climate changes. Christian Aid is proud to work with DfID and others to be proactive in being able to plan to tackle those issues and to invest in them properly.

I say thank you to the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, for his inspiring words and say to the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, that it is not just a matter of neat systems. This is a moment for giving a sign, to our own people and across the globe, about our commitment to generosity, the development of others and a mutual world that works through partnership—a narrative that is radical in the proper way.


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Northover): …We know only too well that no man is an island—I might feminise that. As my noble friend Lord Purvis made clear, the first point to make is the moral case, and many noble Lords have made that case. Indeed, it was made with particular power by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby and—not least through his presence here—the former Archbishop of Canterbury the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Williams of Oystermouth. I welcome his engagement, and we are pleased to see them involved today. My noble friend Lord Steel quoted strong passages from two global religions as to why we must do this. We heard my noble friend Lord Chidgey’s moving account from Juba, as well as those from the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and others. They all made the moral case exceptionally clear…


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