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Police applaud MP for criticising foreign aid; RISE IN FUNDS ATTACKED AT A TIME OF UK BUDGET CUTS.

Byline: DAVID WILLIAMSON

AN MP has been praised by Welsh police for challenging the UK Government's decision to boost funds for international development when forces across the UK face budget cuts.

David Davies, the MP for Monmouth, told officers that cutting the police service and armed forces would not be his priorities if he had to make cuts.

He won applause when he said: "I question the need to increase the budget for foreign aid."

The South Wales Police Federation yesterday praised the Conservative MP's willingness to question his own party's policies, but the UK Government claimed aid helps combat drugs trafficking, terrorism and unchecked migration.

According to the latest edition of the federation's magazine, Mr Davies also "questioned the need for environmental schemes and measures" and "queried the need to get involved in the internal difficulties of other nations" when speaking to a gathering of members.

Mr Davies, who is out of the country, reportedly told officers that the first priority of any Government should be to defend the realm and the rule of law.

The remarks by Mr Davies, who serves as a special constable, come at a time when 1,600 officer and staff posts could be lost across Wales' four police forces by 2015.

Gary Bohun, chairman of South Wales Police Federation, said he had never known morale to be so low in three decades of policing.

He said: "I'm genuinely fearful for the future of the police... we may lose so much ground we may never recover to what we were."

Mr Bohun said the Government was "bulldozing" ahead with cuts that would inevitably have an impact on services.

He said: "The reason people value the police is because when other agencies can't cope we step in for them. We deal with the most vulnerable in society.

"When social services can't cope they call the police. When health can't cope they call the police."

He said that officers struggled to see "the logic" in the UK increasing levels of international aid.

This latest intervention by a Conservative MP will intensify pressure on the Prime Minister to show that aid money is delivering value for UK taxpayers.

Conservative Defence Secretary Liam Fox has urged Mr Cameron not to make a legal commitment to boost the aid budget to the United Nations target of 0.7% of national income.

However, a spokeswoman for the Department for International Development (DFID) insisted that its work had a direct impact on the quality of life in the UK.

She said: "Helping those most in need is both morally right and in our national interest. Aid is not only from Britain, it is for Britain - stopping drug trafficking, terrorism and unchecked migration, before it reaches our shores."

Support for the UK Government's position also came from the charitable sector.

A spokeswoman said: "Christian Aid strongly supports David Cameron's repeated assurances that the coalition Government will keep its promises on aid.

"Even when the coalition has fulfilled that pledge, much less than a penny in each pound of UK Government spending will be used to help men, women and children living in poverty overseas in conditions far worse than our own.

"Aid saves lives and helps make those lives worth living - for instance with vaccinations and schooling for millions of children and clean water and shelter for people hit by hurricanes.

Christian Aid believes that it is morally right to help people far worse off than ourselves - and that millions of people in Britain agree."

The DFID budget rose from pounds 6.7bn in 2009-10 to pounds 7.5bn in 2010-11. In 2009-10 it was responsible for pounds 6.6bn of spending on development.

A total of pounds 362m of "bilateral assistance" was channelled through UK organisations including the British Red Cross (pounds 40m), VSO (pounds 34m) and Oxfam (pounds 24m). The European Commission's development programme received the largest amount of DFID multilateral assistance (pounds 1.1bn), ahead of the World Bank (pounds 560m) and the United Nations (pounds 216m).

> CAR STORM: PAGE 14

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 2, 2011
Words:694
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