Cameron places aid at heart of UK foreign policy

Last night UK Prime Minister David Cameron issued a strong defense of UK aid and development policy during his Mansion House speech on foreign policy. In a wide-ranging address on “Foreign Policy in the National Interest” Cameron took on the “pessimists” who have called for Britain to pull back from its aid commitments:

“I believe in the moral argument for aid…that we have obligations to the poorest in the world but I also believe that it is in our national interest. Isn’t it better to help stop countries disintegrating – rather than end up dealing with the consequences for our own country: immigration, asylum, terrorism? Aid can help us avoid crises before they explode into violence, requiring immense military spending. And the answer to the legitimate concern that too much aid money gets wasted – isn’t to walk away. It’s to change the way we do development. By 2015 UK aid will secure schooling for more children than we educate in the UK but at one-fortieth of the cost. And we will help vaccinate more children against preventable diseases than there are people in the whole of England. That’s the kind of aid I believe in…”

ONE Europe Director Adrian Lovett welcomed the speech last night. He said:

“The Prime Minister is right to place aid at the heart of modern British foreign policy. Aid costs just over a penny in each pound of government spending — a tiny proportion of what is spent on things like the NHS and benefits. Well spent aid is obviously in the interests of people living in extreme poverty, but it’s very much in Britain’s national interest too. The UK is a world leader on international development. Now it needs to use its muscle to bring other countries up to the mark too.”