The SNP have long been a champion for international development. In 2010, we successfully pressured the UK Government to meet the UN recommendation that 0.7% of national wealth be devoted to international development. As a result of our pressure, the UK became the first G7 nation to write a commitment to the 0.7% target into law. This will help achieve our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, to make sure everyone in the world can have a primary education, to reduce infant mortality, to combat diseases and to ensure the world’s environment remains habitable.
It is important to recognise some of the major advances that have been made possible as a result of international aid. For example, aid spending has contributed to the eradication of smallpox. Since the last smallpox death in 1978, between 60 and 120 million premature deaths have been prevented. We are also now close to the global eradication of the debilitating disease polio.
Questions have been raised in the last few weeks about the continuing commitment of the Tory UK Government to international development. The SNP supports the cross-party consensus expressed in the 2015 International Development Act for the UK to meet the UN target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on international development. Rest assured, that my SNP colleagues and I will continue to press the UK Government to maintain this commitment.