Politics: Row looms over broken pledge

OVERSEAS AID
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The Independent Online
CLARE SHORT will face allegations that the Government is breaking its election pledges over Third World aid after figures showed that Britain has cut aid spending by more than 2 per cent.

Spending on aid as a proportion of national wealth fell in real terms by 2.2 per cent between 1996 and 1997. Ms Short's officials at the Department of International Development were braced for the figures from the highly respected OECD, insisting before they were published that they would show a fall because Labour had inherited the spending totals from the Tories, which were fixed for two years by the Chancellor.

The Secretary of State is understood to have used the threat of broken election promises to argue for a substantial increase in her budget in the comprehensive spending review but she is recasting the money more at poverty alleviation, and less at supporting British firms in winning orders from developing countries.

The OECD report said Britain's reduction was part of a "disturbing trend of reduced aid flows". It reminded the Government that the G8 summit leaders' meeting in Birmingham in May this yearreconfirmed their commitment to "a real and effective partnership ... to reach the internationally agreed goals for economic and social development as set out in the OECD's 21st century strategy".

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