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PM hints millions from aid budget could go to defence

David Cameron has paved the way for hundreds of millions of pounds from Britain's aid budget to be diverted to defence.

The Prime Minister hinted that the money could be spent on peacekeeping operations instead as he tried to placate some backbenchers who are angry at how much the country spends.

ITV News Political Correspondent Alex Forrest reports:

Charity: More aid funding for 'crisis-affected people'

Crises in Syria, Mali and other contexts highlight how important it is that DfID (Department for International Development) funding continues to support the humanitarian and development needs of vulnerable and crisis-affected people.

Humanitarian agencies working in conflict need to be able to distance themselves from military objectives in order to be seen to be neutral.

Blurring the lines between aid and military objectives will not only reduce the resources available to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, it also risks the access and safety of aid workers.

– Sorcha O'Callaghan, head of humanitarian policy at the British Red Cross


Tory MP: Overseas aid and security 'inextricably linked'

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, a former Army officer, said security and overseas aid were "inextricably linked".

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer. Credit: Johnny Green/PA Archive

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I absolutely understand the need for overseas aid although not necessarily at this level.

"But I do see that so much of the aid we have attempted to spend in the past in places like Iraq and Afghanistan has not been delivered as effectively as it might because of the lack of a benign security environment.

"If that means more money has to be spent on defence in order to increase the efficacy of overseas aid spending, I'm all for it."

Oxfam: Aid should be spent on 'hospitals not gunships'

Oxfam's head of policy Max Lawson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the aid budget should be spent on "hospitals and not helicopter gunships".

The millions of people up and down the country who support the fantastic stance the Government is taking, protecting the aid budget when every other G8 nation is not doing that - they expect this to be spent on schools and not soldiers.

So we cannot see any penny diverted into the military.

It's a very small proportion of Government spending, we think it's great the Government is doing it and we think British people expect this to be spent on hospitals and not helicopter gunships.

– Max Lawson, Oxfam's head of policy

Cameron: Aid funds could go to defence budget

Prime Minister David Cameron in the Golden Temple at Amritsar, Punjab, yesterday. Credit: Press Association

The Prime Minister has said the government is considering spending money from the aid budget on peacekeeping and other defence-related projects.

Such a move would see millions of pounds being diverted from the Department for International Development to the Ministry of Defence.

Speaking to reporters on his way back from India, David Cameron said he intends to protect all £10 billion of Britain's aid budget, 0.7% of national income, but that he was "very open" to the idea of pooling resources between departments.

He said the money would comply with international aid spending rules and not be used for combat mission or equipment.


Save the Children: India financial aid cut 'premature'

Despite India’s impressive economic progress, 1.6 million children died in India last year - a quarter of all global child deaths. We agree that in the longer term, aid to India should be phased out as the country continues to develop, but we believe that the poorest children will need our ongoing help, and to cut bilateral aid in 2015 is premature.

We welcome the UK’s commitment to provide technical assistance post-2015, and believe that even if aid is cut to the Indian government, the UK should explore ways to support Indian non-governmental groups that address the needs of the poorest and their work tackling the tough issues that are the obstacles to wider progress – children excluded from health and education because of gender or caste, child and maternal mortality and women’s and girls’ rights.

We welcome the UK’s pledge to commit 0.7% of GDP to foreign aid, and recognise their leadership in development.

– Kitty Arie, Save the Children’s Director of Advocacy

DFID ends lease on headquarters property

The Department for International Development has announced the end of a lease on their London headquarters on the same day it said there would be no new financial aid to India after 2015.

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