On 9th June about 1200 supporters came to Westminster Central Hall from all over the country to lobby their MPs about how crucial aid is and why the Government must stick to its promise to spend 0.7 per cent of the country‟s gross income on aid to developing countries.

Supporters also urged the 131 MPs who came to the lobby to press the government about two other very important issues:

  1. to bring in a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ as an extra way to raise money for aid
  2. to take action to stop international companies operating in developing countries paying less tax there than they should, as well as stopping other deals which deprive these countries of their rightful share of the income from their natural resources like oil, gold and other minerals.

I was really encouraged to hear Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, say that the UK has a moral duty to help people who are poor, in a way that could almost have been lifted directly from Catholic Social Teaching.

I think that all of us there realised how effective it is to talk to your MP when Andrew Mitchell said “Your voices are being heard and the Government is taking these issues forward….”

This comment was repeated by many of the MPs, so if you’re not a CAFOD MP correspondent already, please will you think whether this is something you can do?

There was an exciting and uplifting atmosphere about the day, particularly during the period when supporters were meeting with their MPs over a mug of tea in many of the rooms in Westminster Central Hall. When I walked into one of the rooms I saw groups of twos, fours, and sometimes more, seated around small tables, engaged in animated conversation with seemingly everyone involved. And there was a real buzz in every room. Some supporters even brought in cakes to share with their tea and I was amused to see more than one MP leave the building carrying a Victoria sponge or chocolate cake back to the House.

  • 83% of MPs said they would champion the call to put the 0.7% promise on aid into legislation
  • 69% of MPs agreed to write to the Chancellor to push for greater corporate transparency so people in developing countries can benefit from their natural resources
  • 50% of MPs agreed to call on the Prime Minister to work with the G20 to deliver a Robin Hood Tax to combat
  • poverty and climate change
  • 2187 people who couldn‟t attend signed a petition of support for the lobby

What we all want to know, now, is what did the lobby achieve? Well, I’m sure you will agree that this is a very worthwhile outcome. You can find out more about the issues and look at a short film about the day on our web site at http://www.cafod.org.uk/take-action/tea-time-for-change

Please also look at what is involved by being an MP Correspondent at http://www.cafod.org.uk/take-action/mpc

It’s not at all onerous. We’ll ask you to write to your MP only three times a year. And when we need to up the pressure for change, we’ll ask you to visit your MP too. You don’t need to worry about contacting your MP. We’ll support you with a starter pack comprising:

• sample letters or lobbying information to equip you to act

• training, support and opportunities to share ideas with other MPCs

Bernard White

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