As mil­lions MORE sent to space-race na­tions than ever

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By John Stevens Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor Turn to Page 4

BORIS Johnson was under pres­sure on for­eign aid last night after cash help for fast- grow­ing China and In­dia soared. The two coun­tries, which are rich enough to mount mis­sions to the Moon, re­ceived £151mil­lion be­tween them last year.

UK tax­payer money paid for schemes to cut salt from di­ets, to send text alerts to prob­lem drinkers and to find whether yoga can halt di­a­betes.

The 12 per cent rise in spend­ing on China and In­dia flew in the face of vows to stop send­ing cash there.

The to­tal for­eign aid bud­get grew £493mil­lion from 2017 to hit £14.6bil­lion last year, of­fi­cial fig­ures show.

An­drew Mitchell, a for­mer in­ter­na­tional devel­op­ment sec­re­tary, warned our money should go to the poor­est and giv­ing it to China had brought aid spend­ing into ‘dis­re­pute’.

Mr Johnson is com­mit­ted to stick­ing to David Cameron’s tar­get of di­rect­ing 0.7 per cent of na­tional in­come over­seas. How­ever he is thought to be con­sid­er­ing try­ing to get bet­ter value for

money by let­ting the For­eign Of­fice take over the Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (Dfid).

The fig­ures show that the top re­cip­i­ents of UK aid in 2018 were Pak­istan, which re­ceived £331mil­lion, ethiopia, which took £301mil­lion and Nige­ria, which got £297mil­lion.

Spend­ing in China rose by £11.7mil­lion to reach £55.6mil­lion in 2018 and in In­dia it went up by £4.9mil­lion to £95.0mil­lion. This is de­spite both coun­tries em­bark­ing on ac­tive space pro­grammes.

In Jan­uary, China be­came the first coun­try to land a ro­botic space­craft on the far side of the Moon as part of its drive to be­come a lead­ing power in space ex­plo­ration. It also wants to send as­tro­nauts to the Moon and is plan­ning to launch a space sta­tion.

In­dia spent £107.8mil­lion this sum­mer on launch­ing its lu­nar probe, Chandrayaa­n-2. It even has its own for­eign aid pro­gramme, which gave away £620mil­lion last year.

More than a fifth of the aid bud­get is now spent by White­hall min­istries other than Dfid. The Depart­ment for Busi­ness, en­ergy and In­dus­try Strat­egy spent £34.7mil­lion on China last year and sent an­other £29.6mil­lion to In­dia.

The For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice was be­hind £14.4mil­lion of aid spend­ing in China and £20.2mil­lion in In­dia. When the Tories came into power al­most a decade ago they an­nounced that aid to China would stop be­cause it was ‘not jus­ti­fi­able’ to send mil­lions to an eco­nomic su­per­power.

Dfid closed its fund­ing pro­gramme in 2011, but aid cash has con­tin­ued to be routed to the coun­try by other White­hall de­part­ments. Dfid also ended the main aid pro­gramme for In­dia at the end of 2015, but the spend­ing has con­tin­ued by other means.

Mr Mitchell said: ‘Spend­ing hard­earned tax­pay­ers’ money in China, a coun­try powering out of poverty and at­tain­ing su­per­power sta­tus brings Bri­tain’s brilliant devel­op­ment work into dis­re­pute. Care in what is fi­nanced should be taken by all de­part­ments if rep­u­ta­tional dam­age is to be avoided.

‘The Bri­tish public sup­port aid be­ing used to save lives and tackle hu­man­i­tar­ian prob­lems and dis­as­ters, they do not sup­port this money be­ing used in com­par­a­tively wealthy coun­tries, such as China.’

Nigel evans, a Tory MP who sat on the Com­mons in­ter­na­tional devel­op­ment com­mit­tee in the last par­lia­ment, said: ‘ China can well af­ford to spend its enor­mous wealth on ed­u­cat­ing its own peo­ple with­out the need to dip into the UK’s cof­fers.

‘There are so many peo­ple, es­pe­cially chil­dren, around the world dy­ing for need of food, clean wa­ter or medicines be­cause of the poverty in their own coun­tries and this is where aid should be tar­geted.’

Lead­ing char­i­ties have warned that Mr Johnson’s plans for Dfid could lead to less money go­ing to the world’s poor­est. But the for­eign aid bud­get has come under in­creas­ing scru­tiny as vi­tal ser­vices at home – such as so­cial care and hospi­tal ca­su­alty de­part­ments – strug­gle.

Fig­ures show that the UK pro­vided £1 in ev­ery £8 of for­eign aid handed out by 29 ma­jor coun­tries last year.

It was the only G7 na­tion to hit the tar­get of spend­ing 0.7 per cent of na­tional in­come and it gave more than dou­ble the 0.29 per cent G7 av­er­age. The United States is the world’s largest aid donor in cash terms, but its £25.7bil­lion con­tri­bu­tion is just 0.14 per cent of na­tional in­come.

The Or­gan­i­sa­tion for eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment sets the rules on what can be counted as of­fi­cial devel­op­ment as­sis­tance.

Only five Devel­op­ment As­sis­tance Com­mit­tee mem­ber coun­tries – Swe­den, Lux­em­bourg, Nor­way, Den­mark and the UK – met or ex­ceeded the 0.7 per cent tar­get last year. The Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice has said that a lack of trans­parency in min­istries other than Dfid raised un­cer­tainty as to whether aid was be­ing used ef­fec­tively.

A Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: ‘Our devel­op­ment work with China and In­dia, along­side our world- class de­fence and diplo­macy, is cru­cial for ad­dress­ing is­sues such as trade, cli­mate change and human rights.’

In­dia boasts of satel­lite launch (as we hand them £70m of aid)

The Mail, Jan­uary 2017

Burn­ing money: An In­dian space shot ear­lier this year

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