Blame the pandemic for cutting overseas aid says MP Lucy Frazer
- Credit: Sky News
Solicitor General Lucy Frazer said the pandemic had forced the Government to make "tough decisions" as she defended the decision to reduce the overseas aid budget.
"The pandemic has forced us to make tough decisions and that's why we've said we'll temporarily reduce the amount that we'll spend," she told Times Radio.
"It does say in the legislation that we commit to 0.7% but that can be varied if the fiscal or economic circumstances suggest that it should, and that is the circumstances we find ourselves in.
"In the current legislation it already says the 0.7% isn't a commitment if the fiscal or circumstances change."
Ms Frazer, MP for SE Cambridgeshire, said the Government would continue to support international efforts but that financial support was also needed in Britain.
"In terms of the vaccine, we committed half a billion pounds very early on to support the vaccine and we do things outside of our international aid commitment," she said.
"It is very important to support people internationally, for the price of a cup of coffee we can vaccinate children from some of the worst diseases that can affect them.
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"We have issues that we need to support here for the British public and that is what we need to do at the moment given the economic circumstances that we face in the pandemic."
She told Sky News that the cuts to foreign aid will be temporary.
"Even without the 0.7% this year we will be investing £10 billion and that is really important, but we are in the middle of a pandemic,” she said.
"What we've said is of course international aid needs to be spent but we're going to temporarily cease the 0.7% and bring it back when fiscal circumstances allow."
Former prime minister and former Huntingdon MP Sir John Major has urged Boris Johnson to "let compassion prevail" and honour his commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid.
He said in a statement: "I strongly support Britain maintaining her statutory promise to commit 0.7% of our GDP to overseas aid.”
Bob Geldof has urged Boris Johnson to change his mind on a cut to foreign aid, describing it as "cruel".