Pope’s state visit paid for with “international development” funds
And you thought you wouldn’t have to hear about it again…
Some of the £10 million cost to Whitehall departments (that’s your money) of the Pope’s state visit was diverted from foreign aid funding, it has been revealed. We knew the bill for the visit has already been divided up between eclectic sources including environmental and energy budgets!
The BHA has quickly responded, referring to this latest jiggery-pokery with tax-payers’ money – meant for the poor and vulnerable – as “irrational and wrong”, adding that the work of the Catholic Church as an NGO is often “questionable in itself”. BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips said, “Most people, including Christians, did not think that the British taxpayer should pay for the Pope’s visit in the first place, and many will be astonished to see the detrimental impact that this illegitimate use of public funds has already made.”
An influential Commons committee called on ministers to explain how diverting development cash to subsidise the trip met global aid rules.
The “somewhat surprising” transfer to the Foreign Office (FCO) was queried following a detailed investigation of the annual accounts of the Department for International Development.
Initial figures published in November put the cost to Whitehall departments of the four-day state visit in September at £10m.
Malcolm Bruce, who chairs the international development select committee, said voters would struggle to understand why DfID money was involved.
“Many people will be as surprised as we were to discover that UK aid money was used to fund the pope’s visit last year,” he said.
“Ministers need to explain exactly what this was spent on and how it tallies with our commitments on overseas aid.”
The committee also warned that the higher priority being given in aid spending to war-zones and other fragile states would make it harder to be sure taxpayers’ cash was being well spent.