Your correspondent was mistaken in saying that Clare Short needed to "negotiate" a pledge for a separate Cabinet minister for Overseas Development ("Tony Blair: 'I'm not a dictator' ", 28 July). I was privileged to hold this post for the last two years and can assure you that overseas development assistance is central to Labour's foreign policy. In June I helped launch 'A Fresh Start for Britain', which included the commitment to "bring development issues back into the mainstream of government decision- making ... and to transform the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) into the Department of International Development, to be headed by a Cabinet minister". This commitment had the unanimous backing of Labour's national executive committee, including of course, Tony Blair.
Joan Lestor MP
House of Commons