Jacob Rees-Mogg says overseas aid should not be the job of government

British MP calls on coalition to make ‘easy savings’ by reconsidering contributions to poorer countries

Overseas aid, including subsidies to poorer European countries, should be “a matter of private charity” rather than being government-funded, according to the Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Rees-Mogg has called on the government to make “easy” savings from Britain’s contributions to the EU and developing nations. “It is necessary to revisit what the state provides and where the spending goes,” he said in a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies thinktank.

“There are some savings that are easy and should be made as a priority. This includes our contributions to the European Union and our aid to other poorer countries. These are often separated, but the reason we pay £12bn to the EU is as a subsidy to the poorer member states. On top of this, we pay out £7.8bn in overseas aid. This is not the job of government, but ought to be a matter of private charity.”

Preconceptions about equality and fairness had to be challenged and the creation of wealth “encouraged and praised”, argued Rees-Mogg. “Fairness does not mean equality of outcome. If anything, it depends upon the rule of law and a state that does not behave in an arbitrary way,” he said. “Currently, the state can appear extremely arbitrary, favouring the spendthrift over the saver.”

Rees-Mogg also criticised planning controls that prevent development and growth, and questioned whether environmental and recycling targets served “any useful economic purpose”, suggesting carbon emission targets failed to put people first.

“Even if the greens are right, Britain will make very little difference on her own,” he added. “I would rather my constituents were warm and prosperous rather than cold and impoverished as we are overtaken by emerging markets who understandably put people before polar bears.”

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