Patrick Grady

The Scottish National Party has called on Theresa May to uphold 'in letter and spirit' the UK's commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international development, after reports emerged that the Tory government is planning to divert aid spending to other areas including "trade relations" and "security" projects.

Patrick Grady MP, the SNP spokesperson on International Development, said that diverting funds would effectively amount to a cut in the UK's international development budget and has urged the Prime Minister to clarify the reports.

Fears over the future of the International Development budget were heightened after Priti Patel MP was promoted to Secretary of State for International Development in Theresa May's first reshuffle - despite having previously called for the Department For International Development to be scrapped and replaced with a department focused on UK trade opportunities in 2013.

The Scottish Government remains committed to meeting its obligations on international development. Since 2007 the SNP government has doubled the International Development Fund to £9million per annum and launched the Climate Justice Fund of £3million per annum, bringing the total spend on international development work to over £86million since 2007, and with further increases planned.

Commenting, Patrick Grady MP said: "Theresa May must clarify whether her government will honour in both letter and spirit the UK's commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international aid.

"We have a moral and legal obligation to meet the UN spending target - passing the International Development Act was one of the very few achievements of the last UK government - to go back on that commitment now by diverting aid spending to other areas would be a scandal.

"It remains deeply worrying that Priti Patel, the newly appointed Secretary of State for International Development, has in the very recent past been so hostile towards the UK's commitment on aid - even calling for DFID to be scrapped. Many will be concerned that Ms Patel is now putting those words into action with the Tory government appearing to be briefing that it will effectively cut aid spending by diverting funding to other areas of government expenditure.

"Theresa May talked a good talk about the importance of social justice and equality in her first speech as Prime Minister - even if it did fly in the face of her record. Now she needs to prove her words by protecting aid spending and upholding the international commitment to tackling global poverty, climate change, hunger and disease - just as the SNP government is doing in Scotland."

Notes:

Reports today of UK government plans to divert international development spending: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3761848/At-Stunning-victory-Mail-Sunday-campaign-12billion-foreign-aid-budget-slashed-fund-war-terror.html

Comments by Priti Patel MP on scrapping DFID: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/new-international-development-secretary-priti-patel-called-for-department-for-international-a7137331.html

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