Following the news that Prime Minister David Cameron is considering diverting money from the UK's aid budget to defence-related projects, Rushanara Ali MP, Shadow Minister for International Development, spoke out in Parliament.
"I am deeply concerned that David Cameron has said that hundreds of millions of pounds of aid money could be diverted to defence operations. David Cameron is the co-chair of the UN's High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. He should be making a strong case against the militarisation of aid. Instead, he is showing weak leadership on this issue in a clear attempt to placate his Tory backbenchers who are fiercely opposed to ring-fencing the aid budget, which helps some of the poorest people in the world.
“He should not claim to honour Labour's 0.7% aid spending commitment while at the same time tying development aid to defence. Cameron's empty rhetoric on international development has failed to detoxify the Tory brand."
Ivan Lewis MP and Shadow Secretary of State for International Development said:
“David Cameron's comments on aid and defence spending are a cynical attempt to appease his right wing backbenchers and another example of his weak leadership. One day, he claims credit for honouring Labour's 0.7% aid spending commitment. The next, he seeks to pander to Tory MPs who are implacably opposed to this policy.
“Labour supports a coordinated approach to tackling conflict which brings together defence, diplomacy and development. But as Cameron's own No 10 aides have acknowledged, UK aid money can only be legitimately used for security, demobilisation and peacekeeping. The major proportion of it must continue to be used to alleviate poverty, improve basic services and support job creation, all of which are central to ending conflicts everywhere.
“Cameron's attempt to suggest aid money can be used to offset deep defence cuts is misleading and will not stand up to scrutiny."