Marie Pennell from St Teresa’s, Princes Risborough, writes>
We had a great day in London lobbing our MP on behalf of CAFOD and those in need around the world.
We arrived at Westminister Hall about 11am it was very busy as there were over 1200 supporters from a number of charities (CAFOD, Action Aid, Christain Aid, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund) and 130 MP’s
The first person I met was Chris Bain (director of CAFOD) we chatted and he said he was sorry he would not be able to make Fr Gerald’s funeral but he would be sending a rep from CAFOD, Chris has been to St Teresa’s a few time and was a friend of Fr Geralds. [Tom O’Connor attended the funeral. He had known Fr Gerald very well.]
We went to the CAFOD stall and got a briefing for our meeting with John Bercow.
We had a Ecumenical session led by CAFOD, Christian Aid and Tearfund, then an opening plenary session and the principal speakers were Chris Bain on behalf of all the charities and Andrew Mitchell MP, the Development Secretary.
Chris Bain thanked Andrew Mitchell for his commitment to aid and for the government promise to deliver 0.7% of the national income in good quality aid by 2013, he spoke about the work of CAFOD and the difference it makes to poor people, he got a very good reception from everyone in the hall.
Andrew Mitchell made a very good speech also and told us he had been taken to Uganda by CAFOD five years ago and met a nun working for the Medical Missionaries of Mary. She had been working in Africa for 50 years and he was deeply struck by her dedication and commitment and will not forget the experience he had now that he is an MP and development secretary. He said he was delighted when George Osborne stood by the government commitment to aid to reach 0.7% GDP by 2013. He said charity begins at home but does not end there.
We went to Speaker’s House to meet our MP, John Bercow, and we met 2 others constituents, we arranged to ask one question each.
John Bercow was very welcoming and listened to our questions, he was very positive and said he fully supports
1. the government promise to deliver 0.7% of the national income in aid by 2013,
2. he will write to the Prime Minister ahead of the G20 summit and ask the UK to put pressure on to make all multinational companies report a basic set of accounts and prevent tax evasion.
3. He supports the Robin Tax on the financial sector.
After our 15min appointment, John Bercow’s secretary took us for a tour of the Speaker’s House, then we went to the public gallery in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, we finished off with Coffee in the café and I bought Laura a bar of chocolate from the House of Commons!
There were lots of school parties visiting the Houses of Parliament also.
We went back to Westminister Hall for a final gathering at 3.30 and heard Harriett Harman MP Shadow Development Secretary speak and she said she does not agree with the government on many issues but she agrees with increasing aid to overseas and tax and transparency and would be putting pressure on the government to ensure they deliver their promises.
We also heard two ladies speak one from Ghana and one from Uganda, thanking UK for aid and saying what difference aid can made to women, raising their profile, encouraging education and giving women equal rights.
There were lots of people wearing CAFOD t-shirts and I borrowed one from the CAFOD stall to wear when going to see the MP as I had forgotten my own one!
It was very encouraging to see so many people campaigning on behalf of the poor and I wanted to let you know what a difference CAFOD are making, they had a very high profile and were very well represented.
Sorry it is so long but it was a busy day.