63 MPs, including several former cabinet ministers and former Prime Minister, Theresa May, backed the amendment. If put to a vote, Andrew Mitchell MP said he was confident of winning the amendment, even though the government currently holds a large majority in parliament.
But on Monday, just before the ARIA bill was due to be debated, the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled that the amendment could not be put to a vote, as it fell out of scope of the bill.
In another twist, however, he said he would allow an emergency debate to take place the following day. He also chastised the government for not allowing MPs to have a say on the changes to the aid budget and said he hoped the government would make arrangements for a meaningful vote soon.
The debate, which took place last night and lasted over three hours, saw MPs speak passionately about the importance of UK aid.
Sarah Champion MP also highlighted the impact of cuts, citing Concern Worldwide’s programme in Bangladesh
Other MPs talked of the impact on the UK’s global standing. Layla Moran MP said:
While Preet Kaur Gill MP talked about how these cuts go against British values.
The strength of feeling shown by MPs on this issue shows that it’s not going away any time soon. And as the government gears up to host the G7 this weekend, scrutiny will only increase.
In response to the debate and developments over the past few days, Concern Worldwide UK Executive Director, Danny Harvey said:
"We are heartened to see MPs stand up for what is right by voicing their support for oversees aid in parliament today. Right now, the world is at the brink of multiple famines in the midst of the worst health crisis in recent history, while millions in fragile countries are grappling with conflict and the devastating consequences of climate change. We hope that the UK government will keep its promise and return to spending 0.7% of GNI on aid as quickly as possible. The UK’s aid commitment has the potential to save millions of lives if the government allocates these funds wisely. We need an aid budget that is focused on famine prevention, addressing hunger and improving nutrition, and that builds on the UK’s track record of promoting gender equality in order to end extreme poverty. As hosts of the G7 this year, now is not the time for the UK to turn its back on the world’s poorest."
We will continue to highlight the impact the cuts are having in the places where we work. And we will continue to join forces with supporters and MPs to advocate for a return to 0.7% as soon as possible.