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While I agree that the money should go where it is best needed, and through the best routes (that is not through the various corrupt governments), where is the money going to China going to? If the money is going towards reconstruction eforts after the earthquake I can understand it.

Sorry to be a heartless young fogey, but I think we should abolish the Department of International Development and stop giving foreign aid. In the middle of a downturn, we can't afford to be writing cheques to our competitors, especially if the money is spent on nukes and sending people into space.

A lot of "aid" ends up supporting very dodgy regimes, is misdirected and counterproductive. By becoming reliant on our handouts, the poorest in the world are kept in poverty.

Why not take some more practical measures that don't harm the British taxpayer....?

- Give tax incentives to British companies operating in the developing world.

- Press for an end to agricultural subsidies and trade tariffs

- Make it more attractive for poorer countries to advertise themselves in Britain, either for promoting tourism or industry.

- Stop interfering in the problems of other countries and allow them to mature into successful economies through their own endeavour and by learning from their own mistakes.

The UN targets are pointless. The USA has a very small proportion of GDP spent on government aid, yet its citizens are among the most generous in the world when it comes to donating to foreign causes.

I agree its obscene for us to be contributing aid money to China that has a space program, same with India, if the Indian electorate support a nuclear arms program then they have made a choice where to allocate their own surplus resources, it shouldn't be for the British tax payers to have to support programs, programs the Indian electorate choose to not fund. Why the hell no MP hasn't bothered to raise the issue is beyond me, may be its the ' easy come easy go' culture in how Westminster treats tax payers money .

But the problems of Aid goes beyond undeserving cases, for in my view the whole concept of Aid should be reviewed, after all Aid is just international welfare, and as such it shouldn’t come as any surprise that it produces to same results as welfare, i.e. corruption and dependency.

An economist did a study of Aid, it wasn't pleasant reading ......

//Zambia, if all its foreign aid had gone into investment, Zambia per capita income would have quadrupled in just over 30 years, but it actually fell.

Guyana, between 1980-90 investment as a percentage of GDP increased from 30% to 42%. Foreign aid ran at 8% of GDP. Guyana's GDP fell.

Between 1960 -80 Nigeria and Hong Kong increased their capital stock by over 250%. In Hong Kong output per worker rose by 328%. In Nigeria 12%!

Ivory Coast in 1997 received 127 times more capital aid than India, despite an appalling record of incompetence and corruption. It has twice created lavish new capitals. Between 1979 -94 income of average Ivorians halved!

Basing GDP per capita at 100 in 1980, by 2004 Sierra Leone's has halved to 50, South Korea's has risen 4 fold to 400.//

Aid though doesn't just trash the economic out look of country, it also corrupts the Governance of a Country, for with democracy depending on accountability, and one of the key methods of the electorate exercising that accountability is through taxation, the bleeding hearts of the West riding in their with their Aid programs, in some instances accounting for 80% of a recipients country's budget, has corrupted the accountability that electorate had with their Government.

And all because some bleeding heart liberal wants to feel morally superior at their Nottinghill dinner party, no matter the damage its doing to the recipient, its like some sort of bleeding heart colonialism, while our politicians can play the big Bwana abroad, with lots of media coverage of them surrounded with happy smiling children and stage-managed tribal dancing (they always fall for that one, and don’t the African leaders know it) while throwing billions of British tax payers money into the Swiss bank accounts of despotic African leaders.

I agree and would say that Charity starts at home. I dislike the way that our money has so happily been given away without question, or asking our opinion.

We need to look at all our aid donations and re-evaluate them.

I am sure there is enormous waste and this money could be returned to the British taxpayer

From HM Treasury:

"Over the CSR07 period, DFID's budget will grow by an average of 11 per cent a year, rising from £5.4 billion in 2007-08 to £7.9 billion a year by 2010-11.."

So there we have it. 11% year-on-year increases in spending, rising to nigh on £8bn by the time we take over.

With money being wasted like this, how dare a CONSERVATIVE leader or shadow chancellor say there's no money for tax cuts?

We shouldn't be putting tax cuts for rich Britons before help for the poorest citizens of the world. End of story.

(And I'm a tax cutter).

Jennifer, the point we're making is that the aid budget doesn't help the poorest people in the world. It's the foreign aid that keeps them poor.

I can't believe we've got the chance to write £8bn off the government's expenditure with the stroke of a pen and we're setting up a "review".

This extract from Andrew Mitchell's speech has just been issued:

“We have all just marvelled at the spectacle of the Beijing Olympics and gloried in the success of our brilliant young sports stars.

“Those Games didn’t come cheap – the pricetag was a record £20 billion. Not a great surprise, perhaps, for a country that is powering out of poverty, had a trade surplus last year of £175 billion - and put a man in space last week.

“But many British taxpayers would be astonished to learn that we are still giving aid to China – and that last year, under Labour, China received in aid from the British taxpayer £38 million.

“Our aid budget is the fruit of the hard work of British people. It must be spent wisely. And that means it must be targeted on the countries and peoples who need it most.

“No money for China, more for the very poorest people in the world.”

I'm with Jennifer on this one. Aid is not enough; we also need free trade but there is no doubt that US projects on malaria and HIV/AIDS, in particular, are making a massive difference to the lives of people in the third world.

The US projects on HIV/Aids have had a huge impact, but I would say this is partly due to the stringent conditions imposed by the US on how the money is spent.

We do have a responsibility to the poorest in the world (I hope we all agree on that), but that shouldn't be confused with State-funded international welfare.

" US projects on malaria and HIV/AIDS, in particular, are making a massive difference to the lives of people in the third world."

And at exactly the same time Kenya was handing out the begging bowl for money for malaria programs, their Government was spending the same amount of money for a fleet of Mercedes and Landcruisers for their politicians. Kenyan politicians get paid more in real terms than ours, and their fuel allowance is more than the average Kenyan earns. And guess what 50% of Kenyan budget is Aid dependent, so the British tax payer mugs are paying for this largesse!!!

There remains an argument in favour of an international aid programme and perhaps if it were better targeted there might be fewer reservations about its admissibility. There is no case for sending aid to countries that are well able to fend for themselves and China as well as India seem to be examples in this category. Emergency disaster relief would seem to demand special consideration and specialist technical assistance might be excepted here. Otherwise international assistance through NGOs such as OXFAM and Save the Children appear to be an acceptable way of channelling any aid that is justified on humanitarian grounds. The important criterion would seem to be to stop sending aid in cash which might otherwise end up in arms trade deals or the proverbial Swiss Bank accounts of corrupt officials and politicians.

Jennifer, the point we're making is that the aid budget doesn't help the poorest people in the world. It's the foreign aid that keeps them poor.

Posted by: Cleethorpes Rock | September 30, 2008 at 10:19

This is typical self-serving right-wing bull. How convenient it is for you that in your opinion, giving money to help fight disease, educate women and get people on their own two feet is money wasted. I bet you don't believe in global warming either, as the truth of its existence might inconvenience your life style.

I commend the Editor and Jennifer for their view.

Aid should go certainly where it is needed. If we gave expertise and equipment to help the Chinese with the earthquake and it cost us £38 million, so be it. I hope if they have similar expertise, they'll help us if we need it, too.

Well, I am very happy to say that I would gladly see the entire International Aid budget abolished. The vast majority of it goes to corrupt black dictators who use it for their own purposes rather than allocating it to infrastructure projects for their hard-pressed people.

If future aid is not allowed to be directed by the donor, we should keep the money and spend it domestically. The same naturally goes for the EU, which is nothing more than a glorified overseas aid programme for rich countries.

passing leftie, I don't think that it would be a waste of money if it actually worked.

There are better ways of lifting people out of poverty than handing cheques to dictators. Free trade, infrastructure assistance and encouragement for business will do more for the third world than Hilary Benn writing blank cheques on our behalf.

"How convenient it is for you that in your opinion, giving money to help fight disease, educate women and get people on their own two feet is money wasted."

The problem is Aid supports rotten administrations to survive. Look at the ANC and Mbeki, he, HE, made the HIV/Aids problem in South Africa a great deal worse than it ever needed to be. Uganda brought Aid/Hiv under control with very simple health care awarness programs, no need for massively expensive Aids programs, all it needed was a Government which cared. Unfortunatelt South Africans didn't care that much and voted him back into to office when they had the chance to electorally sack him.

Where a poor country is unable to do things like feed and educate its people, provide healthcare, clean water, etc there is a humanitarian argument for richer countries providing aid to enable this. However, where the beneficiary country's reason for being unable to do this is because its leaders prioritise luxuries for themselves and patronage for their friends over those basic needs of their people, providing aid just validates these decisions. In those circumstances humanitarian assistance for people in those countries is better coming from individuals in this country rather than our government. If the individual people of Britain don't think a particular project or country's problems deserve their money, why should we pay out in their name?

"Free trade, infrastructure assistance and encouragement for business will do more for the third world than Hilary Benn writing blank cheques"

Agreed, jobs that need Aid to create them usually need the flow of Aid money to keep them. The problem in Africa is that their Government choke the life out of their business and enterprise sectors with bureaucracy, corruption, and left wing politics. After all the problem with Africa is that they all put in socialist Governments when gaining their independence, which trashed their economies, and as is usual with the left, trashed their constitutions, which left us this continent that's cursed with despotism and poverty.

I so agree with many of the comments already posted, especially Cleethorpes Rock, Iain, Richard Calhoun and Betty (short but very much to the point - charity begins at home!) That does not mean that we are lacking in compassion. We are simply realists: DFID hand-outs are having the same effect as "soft touch" Britain's out-of-control benefits system - it helps to keep the poorest (who are often poor in mental attitude above all) in their state of misery and dependency - beloved by Socialists as it maintains their voter-base. First of all, we should prune down the DFID to a couple of clerks in a little office; we must NOT give any country (or the EU) cash, as that merely encourages deeper dependency, inefficiency and corruption (and of course the inevitable rake-off to the traditional Swiss bank accounts); all aid must be targeted and its implementation supervised.
Even now -and even under a Labour Govt - the Aid budget for each country should be billed for all their citizens who are in the UK using our over-extended public services to which most of them have not contributed.
Jennifer Wells thinks we want to "put tax cuts for rich Britons before help for the poorest": no, we want tax cuts and help for millions of poor, struggling, working Britons who cannot make ends meet and who cannot put down the deposit for a very modest house.
Finally, in the present state of our country's economy we JUST CAN'T AFFORD IT ANY MORE!!!

I'm not a big fan of foreign aid at all, but India is (a) still very poor (b) a Commonwealth country (c) a democracy. It's hardly China.

Since India's armed forces were already more than a match for Pakistan, I'm guessing their defense build up is largely aimed at China, and largely defensive in nature. If not - and I know they're getting a lot of tanks, not much use for mountain warfare - then it may be they want the capability to be certain of a swift, decisive victory against Pakistan if necessary, capturing the vulnerable Pakistani heartland in a single thrust. This seems to me to be better than a drawn-out conflict with the ISI having time to relocate to the tribal areas. Not really any of our business, though.

I agree with Joshua – and, de facto, some of the other posters. Of course we should continue to help countries where help is really needed, but China?! I thought China has been tipped as the next super-state, the Left’s hope against their hated USA. As others have pointed out China could afford billions on the Olympics – and this country can’t begin to compete in the financial stakes when it comes to London’s 2012 Olympics.

And something else that needs addressing – that Joshua also mentioned – is the Welfare State. This is paid for by the indigenous population [and often being taxed disproportionately highly in relation to low earnings] – yet non-UK taxpayers arrive in this country, and get all this for nothing. The Left harp on about “fairness” – but how “fair” is this on the indigenous population?!

It all depends how the aid is spent. The Sichuan Wenchuan earthquake has already been mentioned and no-one could argue against that. What about education? Does it include funding for the British Council which does tremendous work in promoting English in China? Scholarships for the poorest or brightest students from China to study at universities in the UK? If so, beware, the US has started recruiting aggressively for students from China and it would be of no benefit to the UK's economy or our universities if this stream of inward investment were in any way diminished. The UK needs to invest more in China, not less!


If my personal income was 500 a month, outgoings 350, then Mrs GB£ would be very happy for me to give 50 a month in charitable donations.

However, if I was 3,000 in debt, earning 300 a month with outgoings of 350, then I am sure that Mrs GB£ would divorce me if I suggested giving 50 quid a month to charity.

"We do have a responsibility to the poorest in the world"
Well only if we can afford to do so. Surely Britain should also be living within its means?

Posted by: GB£.com | September 30, 2008 at 14:10
However, if I was 3,000 in debt, earning 300 a month with outgoings of 350, then I am sure that Mrs GB£ would divorce me if I suggested giving 50 quid a month to charity.

What, you don't have a mortgage?

If you are going to use dubious folksy analogies, here's another one: we borrow money to buy houses. That doesn't stop charitable giving.

The British Aid budget is not charitable giving, it's money taken from people via their taxes whether they like it or not and spent in other countries without consulting them.

There's nothing wrong with charitable giving, but let's not pretend that our International Aid does anything more than its purpose- to appease the consciences of the guilty rich and the liberal middle classes.

Returning to my earlier why China question. I have just remembered something – China has bought a lot of US debt. As that’s the case how come China is ‘eligible’ for ‘aid’ from this country?! Indeed, due to the government of all the Comrades, this country is in such a state, it could well do with some ‘aid’ from China.

"There's nothing wrong with charitable giving, but let's not pretend that our International Aid does anything more than its purpose- to appease the consciences of the guilty rich and the liberal middle classes."

.. or to buy influence in poor countries. I am not saying that is a good thing, but it is undoubtedly a factor in why we give aid to India and China when they are clearly less needy than other countries.

Maybe someone can correct me here but didnt Britain apply for support after the floods last year from the EU?

If Aid is all about improving the lot of the African people, then prevent dictators with modern weapons and stone-age mentalities from murdering their own citizens. There ARE African states who materially contribute to the well-being of the Nation. Ten years of peace would transform Africa.
India is a poverty-stricken nation as a result of it's own political choice. It has one of the stronger economies in the emerging world, but has decided on a "Growth, not Butter" strategy. Let them solve their own problems.
We give aid to a lot of countries who don't like us very much. Lets turn off the taps for a couple of years and get ourselves sorted out financially before we resume aid. When the Government again feels able to give away taxpayers money to basket-case nations, chose recipients a lot more carefully.

" When the Government again feels able to give away taxpayers money to basket-case nations, chose recipients a lot more carefully. "


Why should a British Government take it upon themselves to give British tax payers money to other countries?

Why have we accepted the nationalisation of charity?

If people want to give to charities, fine its their money, but why should the British state join in and take it upon themselves to make charitable contributions? Is it that they feel they can't trust the British people to give enough to charity so have decided to do it themselves? Well that's a bit bloody arrogant, and really none of their business to make this judgement of the British people.

So give all the money allocated to Aid back to British people, some £6 billion, and let them decide what they want to do with it!

Day after day, we are shown beautifully crafted images of suffering children set against harrowing backdrops of poverty and despair; a voice will tell us that all we have to do is give £2 a month to save lives. So we duly give our £2 to help children, or the RSPCA, or to pay for operations, or fill the Sally Army envelope with spare change or the Save the Children bags with clothes. So far, so good.

But I do rather wonder why it is, when the British public is fairly generous anyway with its donations to help these worthy causes, that our government giving away aid to countries whose economies have shown steady improvement - whilst so many people right here in this country are suffering. Let them (and indeed us) spend less on defence, more on rebuilding (in the case of China) and basic health and educational provision (India).

It seems highly illogical that our pensioners have to choose between heating and eating; that the government has passed legislation that means a gas company representative can break into the homes of the poorest people and install a prepayment meter which means they'll pay up to 25% for their fuel than the middle classes; that, according to the latest Joseph Rowntree report, child poverty has not been reduced significantly. We wonder why we have so many problems in this society; much stems from poverty, the kind of grinding, bleak poverty from which there is no escape.

And against these poorest people - be it a man on £10k a year or a job-seeker struggling on £60.50 per week (which must pay for absolutely everything: 25% of the rent, heating, lighting, food, bills, clothes if you're lucky) the government levies evermore grinding tax burdens and welfare cuts. Yet we still give away millions to others all the way across the world. If we are to teach our children (or indeed the current government) anything about social responsibility and the need to help others, it is the message that 'charity begins at home.'

I believe that we should put the Department of International Development under the Foreign Office, which would ensure that aid was partly used to further British interests as well as being better directed. Diplomats, moreover, usually know far more than aid workers about the people governing poor countries and how they can be persuaded to allocate funds to benefit those in poverty.

There is great merit in Andrew Mitchell’s comments on aid. From what I can see most overseas aid is either given conditionally on the basis that rich country x gives poor country y money; however the poor country then has to use the money given to buy rich countries products, usually some form of military hardware. This is good for the shareholders in rich countries arms industry and the arms company effectively gets given a free Govt. handout. Or the influx of highly paid aid workers distorts the local economy severely. For example In Cambodia, UNTAC's 1991-93 20,000-person, multi-billion-dollar mission brought high inflation, social dislocation, and a large increase in prostitution and HIV/AIDS cases in Phnom Penh. Of two billion dollars spent on the UNTAC mission in Cambodia, most was spent on U.N. staff salaries (an estimated 118.5 million dollars) and travel costs (62 million dollars). Almost 9,000 new vehicles were purchased at a cost of approximately 81 million dollars, and all senior U.N. bureaucrats were given a daily hardship allowance of 145 dollars to supplement their salaries. At the time, the average annual income in Cambodia was 130 dollars.

No one wants anyone to starve so food etc in humanitarian disasters is essential but I think aid agencies like Oxfam and facilitation organisation like Rotary are better placed to use monies that Govt’s could make available. But real aid needs to be long term with education of children as a priority coupled with development of low tech sustainable economies made locally by local people from the resources that are available locally. Only when this has been effective for many years should aid be given to large scale industrial projects such as dams and airports and the like. Of course this will not happen because how can a huge western world civil engineering company make money from a local economy where people build houses from used tyres and empty bottles. http://www.earthship.co.uk

I think I agree about India. However as Mr. Newman points out it is a Commonwealth country. I suppose we give aid to Pakistan as well, another nuclear power? Would like to know what Canada, Australia and NZ do.

However doesn't half our overseas aid go via the EU anyway now and is rebadged as "EU aid"? I'm not sure whether allocation is done by QMV, but this is the route how British taxpayers money goes to various Palestinian militias is it not?

Also we pay plenty more "aid" over to countries like Bulgaria, Poland etc., in EU "solidarity" funds etc., and what is the CAP if it isn't even more overseas aid to "poor" farmers?

Obviously I'd like to bin the whole EU aid scam in its various forms before cutting Commonwealth aid. As for Mr. Maskell's point about EU flood aid to us - this is simply getting some of our money back from what I think is an internal "EU disaster fund" which we should not be paying into in the first place (the very concept is surely a federalist one)

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