Why ring fence Foreign Aid?

Yesterday, the Prime Minister was confronted by a member of the public who expressed what are surely the highly sceptical views of the great majority of people about our foreign aid budget, which is supposed to grow by 37 per cent over the life of this Parliament to around £12 billion a year.

A 68-year-old cancer sufferer (using the name of Anna because some members of her family don’t know she is ill) asked Mr Cameron on a radio phone-in why taxpayers’ money is going to other countries and not to people like her.

Public opinion in the raw: David Cameron was questioned on live radio by a cancer-sufferer who asked him to justify why so much money was going on foreign aid

Anna has been denied treatment by the NHS after an allergic reaction to cancer drugs, and she has been told there is nothing more that can be done for her. Her husband is ill and has been forced to go into a care home because she can’t look after him. Anna has to survive on £68 a week.

Confronted by her tragic story, and a predicament beyond his worst experiences, Mr Cameron was plainly rattled. Nonetheless, he stuck to his formula, which is that ‘we have a moral obligation to help people in other countries even when times are tough’.

But what of our moral obligation to Anna and people like her? They live in this country. They have paid their taxes. It is a strange morality which puts the needs of people in other lands before the needs of people in this one.


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