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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 13:44 GMT
Brown pledges more aid spending
Slum conditions in Angola
The UK is committed to spending more on aid
Britain is ready to spend "significantly" more of its wealth on helping poorer countries, according to Chancellor Gordon Brown.

He signalled that the comprehensive spending review later this year - which sets out long-term spending plans - would include a substantial rise in the overseas aid budget.
Overseas aid as a percentage of GNP in 2000:
US 0.1
Japan 0.27
France 0.33
Germany 0.27
Canada 0.25
Italy 0.13
UK 0.31

The UK would "significantly raise our commitment to overseas development over coming years and its share of national income" said Mr Brown.

His speech came in front of an audience including the Queen at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's Jubilee conference in London.

Currently, Britain spends 0.31% of its gross national product on overseas aid - a sum the government has been under pressure to increase.

Spending battles

The United Nations target for Britain, like other industrialised countries, is to spend 0.7% of its wealth on development aid.

Mr Brown's pledge comes at a time when other spending ministers are being warned that they must justify any increases to their budgets with improved quality of services.

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown: Detailing extra funds
It is highly unusual for the chancellor to give details in advance of his spending review, particularly at a time when departmental spending allocations are still being decided.

The conference was told that it had before it "an unprecedented possibility of progress".

"We have in our hands the power and obligation, never given to any other generation at any other time in human history, to banish ignorance and poverty from the earth," said Mr Brown.

Donations matched

The chancellor was launching the Commonwealth Education Fund, which has a goal of ensuring that by 2015 every child in the Commonwealth receives a primary school education.

Some 75 million children in the Commonwealth do not complete their basic schooling.

The government said last month it would pay 10m into the fund, with a pledge to match donations and individuals pound for pound, including tax relief.

Bank of England Governor Sir Edward George will jointly administer the fund with Oxfam, Save the Children and ActionAid.

Aid agencies will welcome extra funds but they continue to press for a clear timetable to double British aid spending.

Potential beneficiaries include: Bangladesh, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Mr Brown announced last year he had formed a "national coalition" with religious groups and charities against child poverty.

But aid charities continue to argue that funds alone are not enough to help poor countries and action to give fair trade to third world nations is needed.

See also:

19 Nov 01 | UK Politics
01 Oct 01 | Business
07 Mar 02 | Business
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