express.co.ukexpress.co.uk - September 14 view article

Hurricane Irma FURY as UK unable to use foreign aid budget to help British islands

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By Vincent Wood

PUBLISHED: 00:15, Thu, Sep 14, 2017 | UPDATED: 00:16, Thu, Sep 14, 2017

Irma caused widespread destruction in the UK-owned territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

But rulings from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that are enshrined in UK law, stop money from being sent to the islands because they are too well off – even though their economies, buildings and infrastructure have been decimated by the furious storm.

Now Theresa May faces demands to change the “ludicrous” rules and allow British aid to be spent on British islands in need.

Conservative MP James Duddridge, formerly a Foreign Office minister who oversaw the Caribbean and British Overseas Territories, claimed the rules were “outdated”.

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Theresa May faces demands to change the 'ludicrous' rules and allow British aid to be spent
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He said: “It is absolutely essential we change these rules.

“It is ludicrous that we spend £13billion of aid but we cannot use any of that money to help our overseas territories.

“The rules were put in place to avoid ‘trade for aid’ deals with wealthier nations but they are outdated and should be replaced.”

Tory MP Philip Davies added: “It is absolutely ridiculous that we cannot use any of our bloated overseas aid budget to help British overseas territories devastated by the hurricane.

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Overturned trailer homes are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on September 11, 2017 over the Florida Keys, Florida

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Irma caused widespread destruction in UK-owned territories

“You couldn’t make it up that an overseas territory doesn’t qualify for overseas aid. Surely the Government will see sense and stop this madness and take control of taxpayers’ money and spend it on our priorities.”

Earlier this week it was revealed a portion of the foreign aid budget was being spent on a project to help Chinese workers quit smoking despite Government pledges not to issue money to developed countries.

In a report into the Government’s aid commitments, researchers found hundreds of thousands of pounds was being handed to University projects aimed at helping relatively wealthy nations.

Loughborough University was handed £537,717 to research low energy ways to keep houses in India cool during the summer, while Sun Yat-Sen University received £133,584 to find out how to cut smoking rates among migrant factory workers in Guangzhou, China.

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Dfid aid is loaded onto a Royal Air Force aircraft helping affected areas of Hurricane Irma

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MP James Duddrudge claimed the rules were 'outdated'

A spokesman for the Department for International Trade said: “Reform of Official Development Assistance was one of the Conservative manifesto pledges and we are looking at how the current rules apply to disasters.”

It comes as Boris Johnson visits the island of Anguilla to offer both military support and vital supplies to the nation.

Addressing those gathered at the home of Anguilla governor Tim Foy on Tuesday, Mr Johnson admitted he “hadn't seen much of the island yet”, but that what he saw was “very surprising”.

He said: “I had been told it was going to be a scene of devastation from the air and I have to say that I looked down as we flew in and I saw an incredible amount of tidying up had already happened.

“But talking to you all, it is clear this place has been through an absolutely hellish experience, and it is no doubt at all that you need help with power generation, with getting the hospital back up and running, getting the airport back up and running, and schools properly set - all kinds of things need to be done.”

Mr Johnson said he is visiting to “show the commitment of the United Kingdom to this country”, adding: “We are here to help.”

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express.co.ukexpress.co.uk - September 14 view article