Scotland Should Control £391 Million Aid Budget

22 November 2005
"We have the expertise, the interest and the commitment, now we need the control"

SNP Europe Spokesman Alyn Smith MEP is calling for Scots to have control of their share of the UK's International aid budget. Mr Smith believes Scots should now take control of their part of the budget currently given to the UK Department for International Development (DFID). This would ensure an international development budget of some 391 million pounds.

Speaking after he organised a delegation from the Scottish International Development Community to visit Brussels where they lobbied MEPs and European Commission officials, Mr Smith said:

"Scotland's share of the DFID budget should be 391 million pounds. Scotland should control this budget as we clearly have the interest and expertise to draw up a world leading development strategy and take our place among the small Northern European nations like Sweden, Norway and Denmark who excel in this area. To my mind we need not even amend the Scotland Act as the Executive has already been taking action in this area."

"I have no problem with Scotland meeting our share of the international commitments through the EU or UN that we already contribute to but DFID has in the past used their budgets to assist with export credit guarantees for arms or unnecessary investment in developing countries rather than concentrating on core needs. I believe most Scots believe that kind of spending being classified as aid or development assistance is wrong."

"Even while trade policy is reserved to London and Brussels, Scotland has taken steps to find our voice on the world stage. The Executive created the International Strategy, with a specific budget line, and our First Minister visited Malawi, all steps in the right direction, but we can do more."

"It was great to have so many active and committed Scots out to Brussels, and yet again I was struck by the depth of commitment and interest in Scotland in international development and trade justice issues. A Scottish aid budget could be directed specifically to the areas that Scottish people see as priorities. While the SNP aspires to a more ambitious international development policy along the lines of other Nordic countries than that carried out by the UK, the initial devolution of this sum would be a start.

As the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly meets in Edinburgh this week Scotland should have a much more significant role in international development and international affairs, we have much to offer but until we have the financial control Scotland's impact on the development agenda will be limited to people power alone. I will be attending the ACP-EU summit tomorrow in Edinburgh and will be making these points there also. We have the expertise, the interest and the commitment, now we need the control."

Note to Editors

£391 million is the per capita share of the DFID budget attributable to Scotland based on the DFID budget of £4.6 billion for 2005/6 and Scotland as having 8.5% of the UK population.