On Thursday 9th June, CAFOD, along with other agencies, organised and hosted some 1200 persons at Westminster Central Hall. These people came to lobby their own MPs on questions of continued support (even in these hard times for ordinary people) for the UK’s promise to donate 0.7% of our GNI (Gross National Income) to be given as Aid to developing countries. Understandably, many of- our people (who are hard-hit by the recent cuts, made by our government in an effort to reduce our huge national deficit) see sending Aid to the developing world, a difficult course of action to support.
“Charity begins at home” some say.
The people, who were at Westminster on 9th June, were all supportive of continuing to give Aid to our less fortunate brothers and sisters in Asia and Africa. Secretary of State, Andrew Mitchell addressed us and spoke of his own very strong views, about the necessity of continuing to be donors of this Aid;
“Charity does begin at home”, he said, “but it does not end there.”
He received a resounding ovation, both for his words and for his obvious sincerity.
Eight of the Sisters of our Congregation participated in the Lobby, which began with an Ecumenical service at 11am and which drew to a close at 4pm. The central part of the day from lpm-2.45pm was dedicated to interviewing the MP’s who had been invited to the Lobby by their own constituents.
In fact, there were 131 MP’s present, and tea tables had been set out where MP’s and their constituents enjoyed a cup of tea together as aid matters were discussed and questions were put by the constituents. The following areas were explored:
~the fulfilment of the 0.7% promise of Aid, made by Britain 40 years ago, and not yet kept
~ tax evasion by multinational companies
~ transparency of the accounts of money going to developing countries for natural resources such as gas and oil.
~ Another subject discussed was a proposed Robin Hood Tax of.O.5% to be levied on financial transactions. It was suggested that the proceeds of such a tax should be divided as follows: 50% for the poor of the UK, 25% for the needs of the developing world, and 25% to offset the damaging effects of Climate Change on the poorest communities.www.cafod.org.uk/teatimeforchange
The Lobby derived its name from the cup of tea, offered to the MP’s, as they sat listening to, and discussing, the concerns of their constituents.
Sadly, none of the MP’s of the constituencies where our convents are were able to attend the Lobby. Two Sisters from the Hertsmere constituency, were able to arrange an interview with their MP at his local surgery on Friday 10th June; there they put their questions and discussed their concerns.
Sister Alphonsus