Christian Aid today (9 May) criticised the omission from the Queen’s Speech of any mention of legislation committing the UK to spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on overseas aid.
The organisation’s chief political adviser Sol Oyuela said: "We welcome the Government’s commitment to raising the aid budget to 0.7 per cent from 2013, but we are very disappointed that it has yet to live up to its pledge to legislate on this.
"This was not just a Coalition promise. It was a promise made to the world’s poorest people and one which we just cannot renege on.
"Protecting the 0.7 per cent in law would safeguard the aid budget from future political jockeying, guaranteeing effective and predictable spending to fight global poverty whichever party is in power.
"And it would also enable the UK to exert more pressure on other EU countries to move towards the UN goal of a 0.7 per cent aid commitment from rich countries.
"Only recently the European Commissioner for Development praised the UK for its leadership on aid provision: enshrining the figure in law would have only enhanced our standing internationally".
All three main parties pledged in their manifestos at the last election to make the 0.7 per cent aid commitment a legal obligation. It was also a promise in the Coalition Agreement between the Conservatives and Liberal-Democrats.
Since then, the Government, while maintaining that spending will reach the target by 2013, has failed to deliver on its legislation promise, blaming lack of time and other more pressing priorities.
"Legislation would ensure that in future the government of the day is entirely accountable to Parliament for aid delivery’’ said Ms Oyuela.
She concluded, "In addition, it would ensure aid is maintained at an affordable level; just as absolute aid levels may fall when Britain’s income goes down, so too should they rise when the national income rises."