Jacob Rees-Mogg announces debate and vote for Tuesday on international aid

·3-min read

Watch: MPs to vote on foreign aid budget cuts, but tax rises are threatened if government loses

MPs are being given the chance to vote to restore aid spending to 0.7% of national income by January 2022, according to Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The Commons Leader told MPs there will be a general debate on Tuesday on the Treasury update on international aid.

He later answered “yes” when asked if overseas aid spending would be restored to 0.7% if MPs voted down the motion under consideration.

Senior Conservative figures as well as Opposition MPs have been calling for months for a Commons vote on the Government’s decision to cut foreign aid spending from 0.7% of national income, which is enshrined in law, to 0.5%.

Mr Rees-Mogg, making a business statement in the Commons, said: “The motion will be that this House has considered the written ministerial statement relating to the Treasury update on international aid, which was laid before this House on Monday 12th July.

“The debate will be for three hours and the decision will be binding upon her Her Majesty’s Government.”

Aid being delivered to the Caribbean islands stricken by Hurricane Irma (Andy Wasley/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA)
Aid being delivered to the Caribbean islands stricken by Hurricane Irma (Andy Wasley/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA)

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said Labour and “many” other MPs had “argued strongly for a proper debate and an amendable motion with a vote on international aid cuts” asking if any vote “would be legally binding on the Government, or is it just politically binding?”

She said: “What will be the consequences if the motion is defeated?

“It looks at the moment, my suspicions are that this could be a Treasury road map to 0.7% which might take a rather roundabout route, rather than this House deciding …

“If the House tomorrow votes down the motion on the general debate, if there is a motion, will international aid go back to 0.7% of gross national income in January 2022, yes or no?”

Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “The answer to the last question is yes.

“The written ministerial statement from the Treasury says however if the House were to (negative) the motion rejecting the Government’s assessment of the fiscal circumstances, then the Government would consequently return to spending 0.7% of GNI on international aid in the next calendar year, so that is from January 2022 and with likely consequences for the fiscal situation including for taxation and current public spending plans.”

Mr Rees-Mogg added: “This is merely an effort to facilitate the House in debating an issue which is of concern to many members.”

He went on: “It is being provided in this way to allow the House to come to a clear decision, it will be a yes or no answer.

“Does this House wish to see the public finances kept under reasonable control, does it recognise that are limits to what we can do?”

Conservative former cabinet minister David Davis asked if there would be an “impact assessment on the number of lives lost as a result of this policy” and if the vote was amendable.

Watch: Theresa May urges government to reconsider foreign aid cut

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