MPs support Britain's £280m aid to India

Britain should continue to channel £280m of its annual overseas aid budget to India despite the Asian country's fast-growing economy, according to an all-party group of MPs.

India has nuclear and space programmes and spends about £300m a year on aid to poorer countries. It has more billionaires than the UK and its economy is expected to grow by 9 per cent next year.

Yet it also has more poor people than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa; 850 million people live on less than $2 (£1.22) a day; 42 per cent of the population lives in poverty; 28 per cent of children are born with a low birth weight and 1.83 million children aged five and under die every year.

In a report published last night, the International Development Select Committee backed the Government's controversial decision to maintain aid to the country.

The verdict is a boost for David Cameron – who is at loggerheads with many Conservative MPs after making a passionate defence of the Government's decision to boost development spending each year – and for Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, who maintained aid to India but cut it to 16 other nations.