Parliamentary Time and International Development

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

Much talk, debate and passion has been spilt over the cause of House of Lords reform in the last few months; however, now that the government will not be pursuing this cause, how does it intend to fill the parliamentary time Lords reform would have taken?

A noticeable gap in putting into law the Coalition’s legislative promises has been the delaying of enacting a law that would commit the UK to spending 0.7% of its national income on international development. The withdrawal of Lords reform provides the government the opportunity to fulfil this promise sooner rather than later. I was not holding my breath that it would do so even before George Osborne’s non-committal response in the Commons.

This lack of priority to fulfil a commitment in the Coalition Agreement, which has cross-party support, (regardless whether you believe or not putting the target into law is a good idea – the Lords’ Select Committee on Economic Affairs, for example, published a report earlier this year calling on the government to drop the target and focus on choosing and funding the best ways to promote international development rather than fixating on funding levels alone) was brought home in the recent ministerial reshuffle.

The Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, became the Government’s Chief Whip with Justine Greening moving from Transport to International Development. The latter move has gained considerable coverage due to its supposed ramifications for expansion of Heathrow airport.

I was interested to note though, the widespread belief that it was considered a demotion. In terms of the budget that both departments control, they will be, by 2014-15, almost equal with the Department of Transport being slightly higher. I do not thus see that it can be considered a demotion in the financial heft available to the Secretary of State.

Instead, it simply seems that international development is considered an issue that ranks below transport in the greater scheme of things. I can see why that is the case, as transport is something that we face everyday whilst very few can see the impact of the UK’s international development.

Nevertheless, in terms of impact of people globally the UK’s international development budget is aimed at a far greater quantity of people than the UK’s transport budget will ever manage. It is also, for many around the world the only glimpse they have of us as a nation. It is thus hugely important for the UK’s international standing and reputation, and has great value and importance for how we present ourselves as a nation and how we are perceived globally. I do not see that as a demotion. Let’s see if the new Secretary of State is up for the challenge!

9 comments for “Parliamentary Time and International Development

  1. maude elwes
    14/09/2012 at 2:39 pm

    You know sometimes when I read these thread openings I do wonder if those who write them really believe what they put up for us to take in.

    This little matter of the International Development Budget in regular speak is foreign aid. What exactly is it the British people are supposed to accept and believe on this issue? That what the world of nations think of our people depends on how much ‘aid’ they are willing to shell out for those in power elsewhere to pocket, when our own people are facing the worst austerity and poverty since WW2? Are you being serious here?

    Don’t you think the ‘world’ may have some concern and worry about how the people of the UK, who pay this bill in their taxes, are fairing. I mean we have been so good to the world when times were bleak. Surely, now times are dire for us, they feel we need to make drastic cuts to aid in order to put our own finances right. It’s no good killing the goose that lays the golden egg, is it?

    As Blagger is always reminding us, we are in debt and that debt is crippling the country. So government tells us. Yet you have the audacity to suggest we continue to send aid elsewhere? Can you explain in detail why you feel others deserve to eat, be warm and clothed before our elderly, sick, disabled and children here in this country are? And in all these years, after billions of pounds in ‘aid and charity’ to these needy countries continues, they remain so wretched and unable to function without our taxes we never get a break? It grows not lessens. Now why is that? Someone isn’t doing a good job in running those funds are they. So why throw more into the pit to once again disappear.

    I would really like to know why our old men and woman are not seen as important as these overseas needy? Why are my families taxes siphoned off to those who remain a forever endless pit of want, whilst our own are ill treated and left to starve in care homes and hospitals because our money is short? On top of which you ring fence the money to cure the problems of those out of our jurisdiction? We are simply considered second class in the aid stakes and yet, again, we pay the bill. In another mind set, that would be considered treason.

    Why should we get into further debt for charity when charity is denied our own? And if an organisation dares to highlight the children in poverty, starving right here, they are beaten into submission and called liars when they expose it. Why is that?

    Seriously, government must stop underestimating our intelligence. If those in our government departments want to give their own funds, legally made, to those outside our jurisdiction they are quite free to do so. From what I believe many of the people in office are extremely wealthy people and could donate a pretty penny on their own behalf. But, that is their choice. If you want to send our taxes as foreign aid, have a referendum on it for the British people to decide where their ‘borrowed’ money is to be best used, home or abroad. That then would be the honest way to govern. Direct Democracy. It works every time and creates a country of natural consent to be ruled.

    • Lord Blagger
      17/09/2012 at 9:09 am

      As Blagger is always reminding us, we are in debt and that debt is crippling the country. So government tells us.


      Actually, the government isn’t telling you. It’s hidden the really big debts off the books. Ask it why, and it says we will change the law not to pay out on pensions.

      Now that means the pensions it stands now are legally enforceable, otherwise they wouldn’t have to change the law to default.

      So they are accepting money for a service they will never supply.

      That is fraud.

  2. Gareth Howell
    14/09/2012 at 4:08 pm

    The noble baroness has done so much good work over the years with international development,
    I am glad to read what she has to say.

    I oftenwonder what the hon member for (East End)George Galloway has to say about International development, knowing as I do his views on the role of the Foreign Office in world affairs….arms dealers worldwide….

    It is a good thing that the department
    was divided in to two, when it was, though quite some time ago now.

  3. Senex
    14/09/2012 at 5:38 pm

    Come Maude do you never put anything in the charity tin, the one they are not supposed to rattle? I must confess to being confused by what her Ladyship means by National Income; is it gross or net income she refers to? I suspect she doesn’t know herself otherwise she would have linked it.

    The national gross income at market rates for 2011 was £1,531,327 million pounds. The net income from abroad for 2011 was 15,174 millions and perhaps this figure should be used as we give something back?

    Counting on my fingers I calculate 0.7% of 15,174 millions as 106 million. Divide this by the number of taxpayers say 28 million then Maude if you are a UK taxpayer your contribution to foreign aid in 2011 was 3.78 pounds sterling.

    …Just a note on linked content; when the internet came along way back when what used to frustrate me enormously was use of hyperlink aliasing that was of no use to me when I had taken a print of a web page used for reference purposes. And then an awareness of NRO challenges to keeping digital content on the go for maybe a century or more plus the difficulty of technical changes, e.g. HTML then HTML5 now; difficult, presentation or longevity?

    Ref: Topic guide to: National Income, Expenditure and Output
    United Kingdom Economic Accounts–expenditure-and-output

    • maude elwes
      15/09/2012 at 2:55 pm


      I drop my offerings in the charity tin when my family and those I know are eating, have a warm bed and care in their life. Because if they do not, I then have to make sure, as close as I can, that they will be able to survive. I would not dream of donating one penny of borrowed money to any cause whilst those close to me are in need of what I may have.

      Charity begins at home. And the desperate state so many of our home grown are facing is not something to be passed over and scorned. If we, as a nation, were flush and all in the garden was going along nicely, that is one matter. But to borrow to give aid is a nonsense in every way, when those who have paid their dues here are now facing destitution.

      How could you, being that you are so obviously the brightest here, consider it any differently? Come on Senex, it could be your mother or family out there in need of what little we are able to borrow through our government. Have a heart for them.

  4. Senex
    16/09/2012 at 7:41 pm

    Maude, thank you for the compliment about being bright but I’m not sure you are right. The bright one is Lady Nicholson, she was a computer programmer and systems analyst from 1962 to 1974 (Wiki) probably working with an ICT 1900 series mainframe with its smokin binary switch double triode valves.

    I’m not saying you don’t have a point but I had to establish a ball park figure for individual contributions to foreign aid. That is, if you regard the taxes you have paid as still yours? This £3.78 does not come from your discretionary income.

    IFS Commentary C124 says:

    “There were sharp falls in average household incomes in the UK in 2010–11. Median income fell by 3.1%, from £432 per week to £419 per week (both in 2010–11 prices) and mean household income fell by 5.7%, from £542 to £511.”

    Median fall of £22,464 to £21,788 equals a loss of £676 pa to personal net income.

    It also says that for 2010/11 gross earnings fell by 7.1%. So lets work this backwards to a supply side loss in billions.

    Assuming a gross income of £27,000 in 2009-10 this fell to £25,083 in 2010-11. The single persons (male aged 30) tax code allowance 2009-2011 was 647 and assumes no pension contributions or other deductions.

    Individual tax take 2009-10 was £4,105 plus NI £5,065 total of £9,170.
    Individual tax take 2010-11 was £3,722 plus NI £4,601 total of £8,330.

    A loss of £840 multiply by 28 million makes a total loss of £23.52 billions. The deflation loss is substantially higher than 106 million in foreign aid. Deflation is damaging the economy but not affecting foreign aid. A political issue!

    IFS: Living Standards, Poverty and Inequality in The UK: 2012. Page 1

  5. Gareth Howell
    17/09/2012 at 9:51 am

    Maude if you are a UK taxpayer your contribution to foreign aid in 2011 was 3.78 pounds sterling.

    I have no sympathy whatsoever for the “we”,”our”, “our people” balderdash that Maude spouts daily if not more often.

    She has an axe to grind and the axe rings of complete selfishness, pretending to be patriotic, and working for those around “us”.

    The world of humans is no different from the world of dogs. They eat each other. Dog eats dog. In a multicultural world with no ethnic divides, her ethic is one of quasi-racialism; “we were here first; get fecked!”

    • maude elwes
      17/09/2012 at 4:14 pm

      @Gareth Howell:

      You and anyone else in this game is not looking out for the rest of the world under the cover of altruism, you are looking out for yourself. And you simply cannot bear the fact that I write what millions of others across this country would like to. You must feel its making an impact or you wouldn’t be getting so nasty, would you?

      What is going on is, that you and people like you are making a great deal of money out of the ‘aid game.’ And have been for years. The, lets play I am a world life breather, is the way you earn a nice income off of the tax payers but don’t want it revealed.

      Take a look at this.

      Now coming out of your closet and calling me a racist is going to get you into serious trouble if you don’t stop it. Because you could not be more wrong in any turn of the coin. My close family, and I mean close, are a supremely mixed race bunch, by blood, individuals, as well as by marriage. So cut the crap with that nonsense. It rings of Clegg and his bigots call when the majority of people in the country want to keep marriage in Churches as sacred to men and women. You like tyranny and subjugation. Silence and fear. The game you play on thousands of ordinary people so that you can make money out of their discomfort and disorientation.

      My family of profoundly mixed race people are paying huge amounts of tax. And they are very unhappy indeed at the cost to them of charity bills of all kinds taking place via a government that has not put to them any form of truth. A government who lied to get votes. And even with those lies could not get a mandate. The opposition equal in its duplicity and the Lib-Dems selling their soul like Faust. And I will say it as it is for myself and them, what I see and what I know because that is what people like you like to keep us from doing. So that you can sell your wares of propaganda to keep the cash coming your way. And what are the likes of you spending their tax money on? Not them that’s for sure. As they cut massive funds from our tax payers rightful expectations of a NHS that is free at the point of use, but, under this lying Parliament find it is privatised under their noses so they and their friends in the business can make billions out of their taxes. Including the Labour altruists already making moves to cash in on their insider dealing along with their Republican friends from the good old USA.–s-setting-Right-wing-friend-Sarah-Palin.html

      Additionally, cuts to all the most important issues of their lives. A school system that can’t educate their children to a European standard of expectation, a welfare system that is now to allow them to starve, homelessness rising by 44% over one year, because the interests of your kind are pressing for their hard earned to be put in your pocket to fund your interests in Aid.

      I could go on until the cows come home, but you won’t see that as the fraud it is, will you. And why is that? Because you want to be able to keep your hand in the do gooder till, whilst British people who pay for this fraud, and that includes all our races, suffer from lack of food, housing and health care. Yet you cry hang on to the plea for others who do not receive the cash you are griping about at all. Like ours, it goes o their top movers and shakers like this cocky git.

      So, if you don’t like our country and the people in it and your interests lie elsewhere, know this your game is up. Like Tony Blair your self interest is in our faces, so you like he should sling your bloody hook. And fast.

  6. MilesJSD
    17/09/2012 at 10:15 pm

    There are at least two “communities” of People on Earth that are un-sustainable

    1) one is clearly the exponentially-exploding total Population of at least 6+ billion (who will not be able to crowd aboard the space-emigration-surviva l ‘starfleet’ in “x” number of years, decades, centuries, millennia ?)
    from this present ‘marking-time’ ‘get fat ready for the imminent nuclear-winter’ era,
    when our human-civilisations are already consuming, and destroying, two Earthsworth of Lifesupportive Resources,
    and our Rulers have planned for that to be increased to three Earthsworth by 2050 when (they have also planned) the total population will “need” to be 11 billion people;

    2) but the other “key community” is the few million oligarchical World Rulers who have not only failed to publish a viable longest-term plan (covering hundreds and thousands of years) for both a sustainable Human Civilisation on this Earth I,
    and a sustainworthy Space-Emigration community for the survival of our Human Race elsewhere in the Universe, on ‘Earth II’
    as well as for possibly light-years of ‘starfleet’ travel to effect that Human-Survival emigration;.
    Summary so far:
    Not only are the Foreign-Aid-Consuming billions of mouths unsustainable
    but our Human Civilisations’ Rulers and Parliamentary-Legislatures are both unsustainable and unsustainworthy
    (because they are fireworks-bonanza-planning, like ‘burning the candle at both ends’, ‘live for today for tomorrow we die’,
    ‘God will provide ‘ –
    ‘we humans have a divine right to feast off Life cornucopiously,
    and to Fritter away Earth’s non-renewable resources while we still may enjoy God’s bounty and still have plenty of machine-power so to do’.
    The above sketched Huge-Hole in both our Governance-Timeframes
    and our governance-institutions’ Population and Essential-Lifesupports Budgeting
    has been better written up, and by more sustainworthy minds, spirits, and fingers.

    I seriously submit that you should be tabling it, as an Essential Factor.

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