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DUP MP for Upper Bann Carla Lockhart and North Antrim MP Ian Paisley have expressed their opposition to the Government’s proposed reduction in the foreign aid budget.

Speaking after the debate, Carla Lockhart said:

“At the very heart of this matter is the role of the United Kingdom on the global stage and the moral responsibilities of our nation. Our place and reputation as a caring country, a compassionate nation.

Throughout our great history we have adopted the principle of national sacrifice to help those who most need our help and support. In financial support, in military support, we have reached out the hand and stretched our nation to the limits to do the right thing. Doing so because we recognise that in times of need, we have responsibility.

I recognise that we are in difficult days. People in my constituency and right across the United Kingdom have suffered a great deal over these last 16 months. The impact of the pandemic on our economy, on jobs, on our health service and schools, has been devastating. Our recovery will take time, it will take significant resource, it will require further sacrifice.

COVID-19 has changed everything, but importantly – and this is the key point in this debate - it has not changed our responsibilities. More than ever we need to provide lifesaving support to those who need it. In our country supporting the vulnerable and those in need, but also providing that lifesaving intervention in the poorest countries in the world.

If we look at the situation in Yemen for example, which in 2019 received the fourth largest intervention from UK aid, we see a deteriorating situation in a country ravaged by war and the pandemic, where millions are on the brink of famine. Yet the proposed cuts being pursued by the Government will see aid fall by 56% from £197m to £87m. Is the Prime Minister turning to these poor people and saying “no, our backs are against the wall here and we are going to give you less?” If that is what this Government is saying, then to be frank it is a moral stain on this nation.

I know those who support this cut can point to examples of where foreign aid has not been directed in an appropriate way. This is recognised by those of us who oppose this cut. Yet this is not the reason to penalise those most in need, rather it is a reason for the Government to better monitor and direct aid.

At this late stage there is still time for the Government to do the right thing. To fulfil our role as a leading global nation, that takes its duty to the less well-off seriously. To save lives.”

Ian Paisley also said;

“The DUP made clear our commitment to the 0.7% of GDP foreign aid budget in the manifesto my colleagues and I were elected on to Westminster. Conservative MPs also stood on this manifesto pledge when they stood before the electorate, but now look set the renege on this commitment.

We in the DUP stand by our promise to the people in the election in 2017, that we would protect this vital budget line that helps those across the world who are in absolute poverty. This support saves lives. What price is the Government putting on a life? It would seem the answer to that is within this proposal to cut foreign aid.

The Government should allow the House of Commons a vote on this proposal. It is a decision that goes to the very heart of the moral mission of Government. The Government is breaking a promise that Parliament does not to be broken and has no right to do so. The Prime Minister needs to change course.”