Cambridge students support overseas aid

February 11, 2005 2:22 PM

At a packed debate of the Cambridge Union last night students rejected a motion claiming that third world aid does more harm than good. Despite strong arguments that the conditions tied to aid damage developing countries, around two thirds of those present thought aid was still a benefit.

Both sides acknowledged that aid was essential in emergency situations, with disagreement centring on the role and effectiveness of long term aid, particularly when it is often attached to conditions imposed by Western governments. Jonathan Glennie, Senior Policy Officer from Christian Aid, opposed the motion - but said he would not welcome more aid for Africa from the West, if it meant Africa accepting unfair agreements on trade tariffs, particularly on agricultural goods.

David Howarth speaking at the Cambridge Union

David Howarth defended overseas aid at a packed debate of the Cambridge Union

Cambridge PPC David Howarth, speaking alongside him, agreed: "Aid should not be political, but given on the basis of need. But we have a duty at least to help other countries to reach a level of economic development at which they can sustain themselves as workable democracies. Aid can help to do that. Opening up agricultural trade to the third world, ending trade barriers to them, and ending the common agricultural policy would also do a great deal of good."

In 1970 Britain promised to increase its overseas development budget to 0.7% of annual income - 35 years on we are still waiting. The Liberal Democrats have promised to reach this target within two parliaments, and have argued against unfair trade tariffs that prevent economic development. They have also fought for fairer representation for developing countries at international trade talks.

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