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Parliament - copyright F1 Online/REX
UK News

Christian charity welcomes Commons progression of international aid bill

A proposed law to mandate minimum 0.7% spending on international aid, which has been championed by Christian NGO, Christian Aid, has cleared its first Commons hurdle.

Michael Moore, the former Scottish secretary, proposed a private member's bill backed by his own party and the Labour opposition.

And Desmond Swayne, a Tory international development minister, confirmed the Government would also support the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill.

Alisdair Roxburgh, Church campaigns manager for Christian Aid, told Premier's 'News Hour' the Bill has a way to go before it becomes law.

He said: "This is the first of a number of stages and it [now] goes into something called committee stage; which then looks at it in more detail over the coming weeks and months."

According to PA, Conservative MP Philip Davies (Shipley) railed against the plans in a 40-minute speech which sparked angry shouts across the Commons chamber but the Bill was backed at a second reading of 164 to 6, with a majority 158.

The bill requires no additional spending as the target was hit at the 2013 Budget.

It will mean spending of about £11 billion in 2015/16.

Shadow DFID secretary Jim Murphy and former prime minister Gordon Brown both broke off from the independence referendum campaign in Scotland to back the plans.

Mr Swayne told MPs: "There are all sorts of arguments to be had about whether it should be 0.7% and a long debate might be had on that basis.

"Indeed, we might be having one today ... but all I can say that as an elected politician I feel myself bound by commitments that I have made and I made a commitment at the last general election to 0.7%."

The Tory minister deflected criticisms from some of his own backbenchers, fighting off the claim that "charity should begin at home".

Mr Swayne insisted international development aid is not charity, it is taxpayers' money spent in the national interest on things such as vaccination programmes for children.

He said: "Charity is what you dip your hand into your own pocket and distribute.

"Taxpayers' money is taken from your pocket without your leave, with all the coercive power of the law behind it.

"And it is essential therefore that it is spent in the national interest."

With Government backing, the bill stands a fair chance of becoming law before the general election but could be derailed by MPs determined to talk it out of time.

Alisdair Roxburgh, Christian Aid:

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