Local campaigner Kris Pears, travelled from Coventry to Westminster to speak with MPs in Parliament to ensure the interests of the world’s poorest people will be kept in mind during the upcoming general election.
On Monday 24 April, sixty supporters of the aid agency CAFOD travelled from across the country to meet with MPs from different political parties at Speaker’s House in Parliament.
Kris met his MP, Jim Cunningham, the Labour MP for South Coventry. “We spoke about the climate agreement that was made in Paris at COP21 and what we thought about Trump’s attitude. Then very generally about social justice issues, both at home and overseas,” said Kris.
“The single most important question is: Will your party maintain the UK Government’s commitment to 0.7% for overseas aid into the future? Not only that, but also commit to making the money totally auditable, preferably through the Department for International Development, rather than hiving off parts of the budget to other departments who are not faced with the same level of probity.”
Commons Speaker the Rt Hon John Bercow MP told the reception:
“For my part, I always think the greatest moral challenge of our times is to try to do something about the gross crisis and disfiguring scar of global poverty. The fact that 1,000 million people around the world exist on less than a dollar a day and very large numbers of people besides exist on only moderately more than that is, frankly, a source not only of anxiety but of real shame to us all.”
The campaigners at the Parliamentary reception are CAFOD ‘MP Correspondents’, supporters who write to MPs on international development issues such as the impact of climate change and trade practices.
CAFOD is encouraging Catholics to ask election candidates to support UK commitments on tackling poverty overseas and climate change, as well as working to ensure that Britain remains an outward-looking and welcoming nation.
Neil Thorns, CAFOD’s Director of Advocacy, said:
“It is so great to see local constituents raising their voices before the general election and making their local political representatives aware of issues that are important to them.
“Pope Francis himself warns that people living in poverty can often be an ‘afterthought’ in political discussions and that’s why it’s so important that we remind candidates of the need to remain an outward-looking nation – one that cares for the interests of people in the world’s poorest communities.
“This is why the commitment to maintaining UK support for overseas aid is crucial for saving lives and pulling people out of poverty.”
Kris added he felt it was important that everyone got involved before the election. “We have been presented with an opportunity that wasn’t there a week ago, we were expecting to have an election in three years’ time and be stuck with what we’ve got until then, now is our chance to question not only our MP but also other candidates who want to take their place.”
Find questions to ask your candidates at cafod.org.uk/election