‘Famine aid to Somalia is money well spent ...’

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THE revelations of serious wrong-doing within News International and the police may have dominated parliamentary proceedings before the summer recess, but they have not been the only issues of concern.

There is widespread fear that the crisis in the Eurozone threatens to spiral out of control damaging economies which are not in the Euro as well as those that are.

Further afield, the famine and humanitarian disaster in Somalia has once again focused attention on foreign aid.

Whilst charity might begin at home it should not end there and I am proud that we are leading the way in the Horn of Africa in dealing with the appalling suffering being experienced by millions of Somali people.

Judging from my postbag, there is a strong feeling in Thame that there is a moral need to provide international aid even in tough economic times at home.

A figure of 0.7 per cent of the national income is not too high a price to pay for saving the lives of the poorest people in the poorest countries and for helping stop the rise of the Afghanistans of tomorrow.

It is right, though, that our approach to aid should have been given a thorough shake-up and that every pound needs to be scrutinised that it is value for money and is being spent well.

By 2016 our aid programmes in 16 countries such as China and Russia will have closed.

Aid will focus on results and be based on evidence not guesswork. A new independent aid watchdog will review the effectiveness of our aid programmes.

Aid is not just from Britain it is also for Britain. Some may have no heart for immunising a child against the killer childhood diseases for less than a cup of coffee.

But can they also dismiss the need to stop troubled countries failing and unleashing terrorism, crime, mass migration and humanitarian and environmental disasters?

In the next four years, British aid will get 11 million children into schools, vaccinate huge numbers against preventable diseases and stop 250,000 newborn babies needlessly dying.

If a fraction of our current military spending in Afghanistan had been spent there 20 years ago like this imagine how it could have helped find a positive future for Afghanistan on the world stage.

As local emails and the delegation of constituents who recently came to see me have made clear, this is a chance for the UK to provide high quality and high impact aid.