Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Burma debate tomorrow

The Tories have called an opposition day debate on Burma for tomorrow. They had said they were going to do it on pensioner poverty - and the House of Commons library went to the trouble of preparing a brief and now don't have time to do one on Burma - but that's their usual ploy, so that the Government benches don't have as much time to prepare.

Cameron has of course issued an ultimatum, saying that aid drops should begin if the situation hadn't improved by Tuesday (today). Nothing of course to do with Prime Minister's Questions being on Wednesday, is it David? Their tactic is to try to portray the Government as 'dithering' over the question of aid drops - but the fact is that Save the Children, Oxfam and the World Food Programme have all said that aid drops are the least effective way of delivering aid, and support the UK Government's stance on this. Aid drops work best when there is a delivery network on the ground - which there obviously isn't in Burma - and there's also the question of how the Burmese regime would react if aid drops began - would they stop all other aid getting through? So it's not as simple as it sounds.

Also worth remembering these figures:
  • UK Government aid to Burma in 1992 - £50,000;
  • UK Government aid to Burma in 1997 - £250,000;
  • UK Government aid to Burma now (pre-cyclone) - £18 million.

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