Government trying to deny MPs a meaningful vote on cuts to foreign aid

Business of the House
24th June 2021

Kevin Brennan Labour, Cardiff West
Further to the question from Mr Mitchell, no one is taken in by the Leader of the House’s sophistry on this subject. Everybody knows that he is seeking to avoid giving the House a meaningful vote on whether it agrees with the Government’s decision temporarily to reduce the amount of aid being sent to the poorest countries in the world. There is no need for him to dilate widely on this; he used to occupy a semi-recumbent position over there and regularly criticised the Executive for exactly this kind of jiggery-pokery. Why does he not come clean with his own side and allow a proper vote—not one rolled up with all such other expenditure in the estimates, but one that would truly meet the test set for him by Mr Speaker?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 
I object to what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Trivialising the estimates does not understand their importance. One of the fundamental things that this House does is approve the expenditure proposed by the Government. It is lost in the mists of constitutional time. It is a debate on the whole of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s budget, and it is possible to vote against it. It is a full day’s debate, but I challenge the Opposition again: if they want to debate this so much, we have given them lots of Opposition days, so why have they not used one on it? It is because they do not really want to get this message across to their voters, because it is a policy that has enormous support with the electorate. Our ultimate bosses like this policy. They back this policy and they think it is proportionate under the economic circumstances. The law set out very clearly what the requirements were with the 0.7%: if the target is not met, a statement must be laid before this House. If the hon. Gentleman does not like the law, he should have put down an amendment when the Bill was passed.