JACOB Rees-Mogg must have been smiling victoriously over his kedgeree when Jeeves brought in the papers at the weekend.

Last week the Tory leadership hopeful posed for the cameras outside Downing Street as he handed in a “charity begins at home” petition demanding the Government slash the foreign aid bill. And, hey presto, just days later a slew of stories appear apparently backing up his claim that aid is a waste of money.

To be clear, the stories in question, which involve the abuse of women and children by charity workers, are nothing short of shocking. But at the same time it is odious to think that Mr Rees Mogg will use such events to undermine the very concept of publicly-funded overseas aid, while feigning concern for public services he ideologically despises.

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Frustratingly, the reports that have emerged over the last few days will surely strengthen Mr Rees-Mogg’s arguments. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Oxfam staff were either sacked or forced to resign for using prostitutes in Haiti while supposedly helping desperate people in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the charity left itself open to even more criticism by admitting it did not inform the Government - one of its biggest funders – and did little to ensure those involved couldn’t just move on to another job.

There are also grave concerns that the disgusting events in Haiti are just the tip of the ice-berg, that paedophiles and other sexual abusers are actively targeting jobs in the aid sector.

More than 120 workers and volunteers at UK charities were apparently accused of sexual abuse last year alone.

All such abuse is repulsive, but there is something extra sickening about the thought that those sent to help the most desperate and vulnerable, often in the aftermath of extreme trauma, would exploit this for their own gratification.

It’s also extremely uncomfortable to think that money, clothes and books we may have or still be giving to good causes, the events we organise or take part in with the best of intentions, are in some way enabling this horrendous behaviour.

All of the charities listed above are also, of course, funded by the taxpayer to do relief work in disaster zones and poor countries and regions across the world. The UK Government spends £32 billion – 0.7 per cent of GDP - on overseas aid, which is, in anybody’s terms, a massive amount of money.

Talk honestly to those who work for an international development charity and they will probably tell you depressing stories about the aid industry – and any sector bringing in income of that magnitude is very much an industry – about corporate structures and money wasting, petty jealousies and protectionism, big pay packets for those at the very top. They might even mention that the charity sector has a tendency to attract the wrong type of people, including “white saviours”.

But they are also likely to tell you that if it wasn’t for the agencies working in the disaster zones and poorest, war-torn countries, many millions more - many of them children - would suffer and die, go hungry, or have fewer opportunities to help themselves.

The current International Aid Secretary Penny Mordant is right to suggest that charities who fail to cooperate over safeguarding should lose funding. There is also surely a case for creating a list of offenders that would automatically bar anyone on it from working for any other charity at home or abroad.

We should also learn lessons from other sectors of society that have uncovered abuse scandals; indeed, it was surely inevitable that the aid sector would also be affected. But we didn’t stop funding education or social care just because some of those who worked within it were exposed as abusers.

And we must not be taken in, off the back of this scandal, by Mr Rees-Mogg’s claims that international aid is in itself a bad thing, especially while he disingenuously suggests the NHS would be the beneficiary of re-channelled funds. Doesn’t this remind you of an equally ridiculous claim on the side of a bus made just before last summer’s referendum?

Lest we forget that the “honourable member for the eighteenth century” as Mr Rees-Mogg is only half-jokingly referred to, is on the extreme right wing of his party, a place where public services and the welfare state are reviled, policies sketched out for them to be cut and dismantled.

The Tory party he is a member of has had almost eight years in Government. If it wanted to better fund health services it could do so tomorrow by shifting its spending priorities, not giving tax breaks to the very wealthy or more aggressively chasing big corporations for the tax they avoid. It chooses not to. It also chooses to continue squeezing those of us in the vast middle with austerity, while signalling it is prepared to drive us off the Brexit cliff.

Mr Rees-Mogg and his hard Brexit chums want us to turn inwards. Part of this is persuading us to stop feeling a responsibility to poor people abroad. Make no mistake, the poor closer to home would be next.