For a lot of us this week started on a low note as we awoke on Monday remembering that England came so close but did not win the Euros. I hope now a little time has passed we can look back and remember a brilliant tournament and the efforts of the England team that lifted the nation when we really needed it. It would have been amazing to win of course but what a journey and what an inspirational group of young players.
Any negativity about the result or players is an absolute waste of time and personal abuse of them is unacceptable. Italy are a good side with a lot of experience that we need to learn how to deal with. Moreover, their Ambassador here is a good man and they own a world-leading helicopter company. I intend to keep up good relations. Meanwhile to the whole England team, management and coaching set up, thanks for the memories, keep working hard and see you next year.
At the end of last week, I was in Chard and visited the Furnham Industrial Estate to see how they are getting on in the aftermath of the floods a fortnight ago. The view is that although this was an unusual weather event, we need to restore drainage that had been allowed to be altered by a local development in 2007 to ensure this is manageable and insurable in the future. I am convening a meeting with relevant local bodies to see what can be done.
This week there were two votes in the House of Commons which attracted coverage and about which many people have got in touch. Whilst sometimes there is a mix of views, I do try to take account of local opinions on votes. On Tuesday I voted against the Government's introduction of mandatory vaccination of care home workers. Having heard powerful evidence from residential care providers I could not support this very big ethical step and believe persuasion is better than compulsion. The measure passed but will I feel sure be subject to further challenges.
The other controversy was about the national target of 0.7% of GDP to be spent by the Government on foreign aid, where I supported the Government's fair and reasonable plan for the future. The intention is to return to the target. After the extraordinary time we have had though, we need to grow our economy back so that we are not borrowing money to fund it. When the OBR independently assesses we are not borrowing to finance day-to-day spending the target will revert to 0.7%. In the meantime, it will be kept at 0.5%, a great deal more than many other countries, and our big additional contribution to the COVID vaccine rollout in the developing world is crucial.
Development investment and support with taxpayer funds is often worthwhile but sometimes needs to be more efficient, direct, and encouraging of private capital and opportunities to augment it. In some cases, it also needs to demonstrate more positive effects. I will end with superb foreign aid news which is something to celebrate and build on: researchers at Oxford University have just tested a vaccine that is 77% effective against malaria, one of the biggest causes of suffering in developing countries.
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