Regular visitors to our website will know that I have made my views known about the amount of English taxpayers money being spent overseas on foreign aid whilst we are facing massive cutbacks at home.
Being a father to two stepchildren, I feel very strongly that our children should be put first, and wrote to the three MP’s in Hillingdon asking them for their views on this. Once again, I had no reply from Nick Hurd or John McDonnell, but Uxbridge MP John Randall (Above left) replied once again to one of my enquiries.
Whilst I sometimes disagree with Mr Randall’s point of view on things, it is good to see an MP representing our area who was born and brought up in the constituency rather than being parachuted in and then claiming to be local when it suits his purposes. It is also refreshing to see that we have an MP who is not afraid to respond to letters from people who he knows will not be voting for him, but obviously takes in to account the views of all of his constituents and takes the time to answer their correspondence. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Randall for also giving me permission to print his reply on the site, which is reproduced in full as requested.
John Randall’s Reply to my letter about increased class sizes in Hillingdon Primary Schools
Thank you for your letter regarding education policy in Hillingdon. I hope that by now you will have heard the excellent news that the London Borough of Hillingdon is putting an extra £500,000 into the borough’s schools. In case you have not, here is the text of their press announcement:-
“Schools in the borough are set to benefit from a new £500,000 fund for educational initiatives to support children and young people, announced at a meeting of Hillingdon Council’s Cabinet on 14 April.
The fund, which is a by-product of the council’s effective budget planning for the coming year, will help to extend existing opportunities for children or young people, or create new opportunities to develop the borough’s future citizens.The council is this week writing to all head teachers with the details of the new fund.
Cllr David Simmonds, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s services, said “This is a wonderful opportunity for schools with big ideas to get the funding to continue their good work or kick start something new. Effective planning is enabling us to make the most of the council’s resources and I’m pleased to say that with this funding we are supporting our schools as they continue to improve the life chances of our young people”
The new fund will enhance work that is already taking place in the borough, building on the efforts of schools and youth workers across Hillingdon”
I recognise that at a time when we are making difficult cuts to public spending it is natural to question the money spent in international aid.
While I do understand your concerns, I support our programme of aid to Pakistan because it is the right thing to do and it is also firmly in our own national interest.
I believe that it is right that we should help a country where some 36 million people live below the poverty line and there are almost 7 million children who do not go to primary school. It is in our own interests becasue building a stable,prosperous and democratic Pakistan will help not only the millions of Pakistani people who live in poverty: UK aid contributes to building a safer, more prosperous world which, in turn, helps keep Britain safe from instability.
The government is not simply handing over a blank cheque to Pakistan. The Prime Minister made clear that the UK’s support to Pakistan will be linked to the Government of Pakistan’s own progress on reform, at both the federal and provincial levels , including taking concrete steps to build a more dynamic economy,reform education, and tackle corruption. As the Prime Minister said, “No matter how generous UK aid, only Pakistan can meet the aspirations of all its children” He was also very clear that wealthy Pakistanis need to pay more tax. While Pakistan has begun to deal with some tough choices, there is much more to do.
Of course, if we are giving more, it is our responsibility to make sure we get more for it. That is why the Secretary of State for International Development has placed strong emphasis on aid being independently evaluated and scrutinised for value for money. The government wants the British public and people in developing countries to be able to see where money has gone, as well as what it has achieved – this is our UK Aid Transparency Guarantee. Since January 2011, The Department for International Development (DFID) has begun publishing the details of all payments over £500 on its website. The new Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ACAI) will assess just how effective aid spending has been, and will report directly to Parliament.
The aim of all our aid is to stop giving aid, by helping countries stand on their own two feet. Making sure children are educated properly is one of the best, most cost-effective ways of doing this, giving them the skills to build their own and their country’s future. That makes this an investment in a safer, more stable future for us all. Over the next four years in Pakistan, the UK will get four million more children in to school, recruit and train 90,000 teachers and deliver six million textbooks.
Thank you for raising your concerns with me – With kind Regards – John Randall.
My reply to Mr Randall’s Letter
Good afternoon John
Thank you for your reply to my letter regarding the increase in class sizes in Hillingdon and the £650 million being allocated to Pakistan for their schools.
This is something that is causing much debate in English Political circles at the moment, and is something that I will agree to disagree with you on!
It is good to see the extra injection of funding from Hillingdon Council in to the Borough’s schools. Having looked deeper however, I see that this funding is likely to come from money generated from the sale of land in Minet Drive to developers, which will increase congestion and remove another green area in one of the most densely populated parts of Hayes Town. The council appear to be selling one amenity to prop up another.
Helping the poor is a noble concept, but I am strongly of the opinion that we should be helping the poor in our own country first.
It seems strange that we are giving £650 million to Pakistan for help with their schools when they have increased spending on their military by three times that amount in this years budget and have nuclear weapons – Surely, their children’s education should come ahead of this kind of spending, especially in light of recent events in Pakistan surrounding Osama Bin Laden and suggestions that not all of their military and intelligence agencies are ‘sound’?
It also concerns me that if our own children are not prioritised, we will suffer in a competitive world economy and thus will start a downward spiral which will reduce the ability of this country to help anyone, let alone oursleves. Surely better to improve our education and infrastructure, solve our own problems first and then come back to the aid situation when we are in a much better position financially? Throwing money at other countries when we have a massive national debt (Whose interest payments are more in a year than the combined spending on the NHS and our schools) is surely folly, especially if our AAA credit rating comes under scrutiny again in the near future. Borrowing money to give away to other countries, when we have to pay the interest, is the economics of the madhouse!
Once again, thanks for your reply to my letter, and I look forward to talking with you soon.
Putting our own house in order
Overseas aid has again been in the news this week. The bill for 2011 is quoted by the press as being £8.7 billion, whilst our overstretched armed forces who are being expected to operate on multiple fronts are facing £9 billion in cuts.
The EU are also expecting us to help in the bail out of Portugal, having already put up £7 billion to bail out Ireland – Both are victims of the failure of the Euro currency which the UK decided not to join (Probably the only decent decision that Gordon Brown ever made), yet we are still expected to pick up the tab for a project we did not even take part in!
With our country heavily in debt and facing massive social upheaval, can we afford to be the Good Samaritan of the planet? Why do people who we elect to government insist that it is the ‘right’ thing to do to increase foreign aid when our children, our disabled, and our elderly are all facing hardship through the cuts?
What do you think? Should we be helping the developing world, or do you believe that charity begins at home? Let us know YOUR views!