Harman calls for more overseas aid

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Indy Politics

The Government should continue to raise spending on overseas aid despite the economic crisis, shadow international development secretary Harriet Harman demanded today.

Ministers have ring-fenced the department's budget, protecting it from the huge cuts programme spreading through Whitehall.

Ms Harman today attacked critics who claim the coalition should switch cash to saving British services threatened by austerity measures.

She told Labour's conference in Liverpool: "It is harder to make the case for international aid when in this country the Government are cutting the police and putting up tuition fees as part of their unnecessary and reckless austerity drive.

"But we must not make the world's poorest pay the price of a global financial crisis, precipitated by the greed and irresponsibility of the world's banking system.

"When people are dying unnecessarily and we can help, that is what we must do."

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has faced growing criticism, including from Conservative backbenchers, of his coveted status as one of only two Cabinet ministers to have their budgets safeguarded.

And Ms Harman urged the Government to stick to its pledge to spend 0.7% of gross domestic product on overseas aid, despite the grumblings of right-wing Tories.

She told delegates at the Arena and Convention Centre: "In their election manifesto, the Tories promised to stick to Labour's commitment of aid growing to 0.7% by 2013.

"We want them to do that.

"But while Andrew Mitchell is - to his credit - fighting to live up to our 0.7% promise, most of the Tories are against it, including his fellow Cabinet ministers who are blocking the legislation they promised to put it into law.

"We mustn't let aid be just the next Tory broken promise."