In light of the current constraints on public spending, I entirely appreciate the desire to scrutinise government spending on international development. I would like to point out, however, that a number of newspaper articles have reported claims that misrepresent or inaccurately portray projects supported by the UK, or focus on projects that are no longer funded. I strongly believe we are right to stick to our commitments on aid because, in my view, spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on overseas development helps to deliver a more secure and prosperous UK, while having a life-saving impact on the ground.
I believe UK aid that helps to stop deadly diseases, like plague, Ebola and Zika, spreading and coming to our shores is a clear example of aid spending that is in the UK's national interest. Furthermore, it is my view that work to prevent conflict and disasters make us more secure and helps reduce pressure on our NHS and our armed forces, by helping to mitigate the crises of the future. In addition to this, however, we also have a moral responsibility to the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. The British people are incredibly generous and at its best the global aid system does fantastic lifesaving work, supporting Syrian refugees, giving life-saving aid to stop people dying of hunger in East Africa and vaccinating children against preventable diseases.
It should never be forgotten that the aid budget is taxpayers' money and as such, politicians have to ensure that not only is it spent well but also, whether it could be spent better.
Since 2010, steps have been taken to make our aid spending more accountable and focused, by reforming the UK's aid strategy, cutting wasteful programmes and making sure spending is firmly in the UK's national interest. I have been assured that the Government is determined to make sure that our aid is spent where it is most needed and all spending is rigorously checked as programmes progress.