Britain has a target of spending 2.0% of our GDP on the military to ensure our national security. All NATO countries have the same target but very few actually meet that commitment. In fact, just 5 out of 28 NATO members live up to their responsibility to ensure that our mutual security is funded – including members of the EU such as Germany, France and Italy fail to meet their obligations. We are going through increasingly troubled times with an aggressive Russia and war in the Middle East but it seems that we cannot rely upon our allies to meet their obligations.
Britain, like many other countries, also has a target for spending on foreign aid of 0.7% of GDP which was voted on in Parliament and made law during the Coalition Government. The British people believe in the rule of law but we also expect our laws to be sensible and for other countries to live up to their promises. It is no surprise that many of our EU friends fail to live up to this commitment either. Again, Germany, France and Italy fall far below their commitments.
Most people support aid money for things such as immunisation from disease, primary education and in region support for Syrian refugees but people rightfully become exasperated at waste. Some of our money is directed towards the families of terrorists, more is ‘dumped’ with the World Bank so we can claim to meet our spending targets and yet more goes to pay incredible salaries of charity bosses. For example, the former Labour MP, David Miliband, receives £530,922 a year to be the president of one charity that DFID contributes to.
It is clear that much international aid money does a huge amount of good but it is equally clear that the arbitrary figure of 0.7% of GDP – over £12bn this year – is too high. I believe that we should not have a target for spending and that spending should be reduced to that which can do most good.
Savings should be spent of social care and, in an increasingly dangerous world were we may not be able to rely on our allies, there should be an increased spending on our armed forces.