Today our speaker was Philip Davies MP, our own Member of Parliament. It has been tradition over a number of years that Philip has been our first speaker of the new session. His talk today was on Overseas Aid. He is opposed to the International Development Bill currently going through Parliament which will enshrine in law the requirement to commit 0.7% of GDP to foreign aid. He suggested that foreign aid should be split into two. The first part, Humanitarian aid used to help out countries faced with overwhelming disaster, to which he was whole heartedly in favour and the second part, Development aid which in most part fuels corruption in the countries that are in receipt. Examples cited, were African leaders buying executive jet aircraft, top of the range Mercedes cars, funding a graffiti spraying project exposing poverty and a girl band in Ethiopia who were to showcase the empowerment of women. These corrupt governments are putting more effort into making sure they are attracting regular aid contributions than they are into creating the necessary infrastructure to best use the aid when it arrives. Some have been receiving regular hand outs since the Second World War but hardly anything in the country has changed over all that time. It was felt that Development aid should be specifically targeted. “If the infrastructure projects aren’t started then next years aid will be reduced.” Also more Development aid should be channeled through “aid” workers. If a group of people (internal or external) are on the ground building school and hospitals then Development aid should go to them directly. This would make more sense in getting the aid to where it is needed.
Philips closing remark was that without the establishment of the rule of law in these countries few companies would be prepared to invest and giving Development aid would be just throwing good money after bad.
As usual with Philip Davies talks, there were many questions from the floor. A lot arising from the talk on Foreign Aid but several about local issues that Philip was more than happy to answer.