Prime Minister David Cameron is in the hot seat again after pledging an additional £814million of taxpayers’ money to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, run by Bill Gates. This will bring the UK’s total contribution to £1.5billion.
The donation will come out of the existing budget of the Department of International Development and makes Britain the largest donor to the cause. Mr. Cameron said, “There is a strong moral case for keeping our promises to the world’s poorest and helping them even when we face challenges at home.”
Mr. Gates called the pledge
“human generosity at its finest.”
The donation is actually staggeringly high when seen in comparison to what other countries have pledged. Britain’s donation is five times higher than the U.S.’s £274million pledge, 30 times above Germany’s £44million and almost 50 times higher than Spain’s £30million.
The delegation that met at the five-star London hotel gave Mr. Cameron a standing ovation for his pledge. The Prime Minister did acknowledge that his increased aid spending was “controversial” but said that the answer to cuts at home isn’t to cut more but to improve how money is spent.
The criticism against Mr. Cameron’s move, however, was quite loud. Tory MP Peter Bone said that no one would argue about the merits of donating to vaccinate children; however, it thought it odd that Britain was giving such a disproportionate amount to aid.
As he said, “People find it very hard to understand why we are doing this when libraries are closing, lollipop ladies are being sacked, potholes need repairing and people are finding life tough.”
Others echoed his criticism. As Tory Philip Davies said, “The Prime Minister says there is a strong moral case to keep our promises on overseas aid. But there is also a strong case for keeping our promises at home – such as sending more criminals to prison. If we haven’t got money for one then we haven’t got it for the other.”