Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, is proposing that the richest donor countries take over a proportionate share of the debt owed by the world's poorest nations to multinational institutions.
The Treasury yesterday said the UK was willing to pay its share - about 10 per cent - for countries with good governance and established initiatives for poverty reduction.
On a recent visit to Tanzania and Mozambique Mr Brown signed debt reduction agreements with both countries, and the deal is being extended to 17 others. Mr Brown said he would make the offer to 70 of the world's poorest countries.
He also wrote to the Make Poverty History campaign to report on the G7 summit at which finance ministers agreed to offer poor countries up to 100 per cent relief on debts.
"This year has started with ... a victory in the fight to make today's poverty history. We hope to go further with a new initiative to give more resources for health: an initiative that Bill Gates has said could save five million lives in the next 10 years," wrote Mr Brown.