BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Sunday, 18 April 2010 15:23 UK

Party leaders urge focus on ending global poverty

Gordon Brown addressing a crowd outside a Methodist Church
Mr Brown said the world could not rest until poverty and injustice were tackled

Gordon Brown has said ending global poverty is one of the "great causes left", as party leaders set out their plans on international development.

Speaking in London at an event to mark World Poverty Day, Mr Brown said the ambition of enabling every child around the world to go to school was possible.

The Lib Dems said nations must fulfil previous aid commitments, while the Tories praised the work of charities.

All three parties back a goal to spend 0.7% of national income on aid by 2013.

The UK currently spends 0.56% of GDP on aid annually, according to the Department for International Development.

Speaking to a crowd in a Methodist churchyard, Mr Brown urged everyone to make "common cause" to tackle global inequality and injustice.

"None of us will rest, none of us will be resting on our laurels, none of us will relax, none of us will give up, until we have made this world a world where everybody can see that justice reigns and justice rules," he said.

Schooling goal

The prime minister said he had written to all aid charities to set out his vision for global co-operation in the area.

He highlighted the drive to allow every child to get some form of primary education by 2015, saying this was a "basic right" for people in "every country, in every continent".

Mr Brown said, if re-elected, he would also work hard to secure a further £130bn pledge on aid from the international community when the G8 group of leading industrialised nations next meets.

There is hope if we do what we say, if we honour our commitments, if we provide a level playing field
Nick Clegg

Conservative leader David Cameron emphasised his commitment to international development - one of two areas he has ring-fenced from future spending cuts - on a visit to an aid charity in Birmingham.

Earlier on Sunday, the Conservatives faced criticism from some development figures for their plan to distribute aid directly to people in the form of vouchers.

Four former senior figures in anti-poverty organisations, including ex-Oxfam chairman Lord Joffe, wrote to the Observer to call the proposal a "crude attempt to export failed ideological or populist policies".

Meeting commitments

But Shadow International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said two of the signatories had strong links to the Labour Party and vouchers were already being used to promote healthcare and education in south east Asia.

"We are completely un-ideological about how you get clean water, sanitation, basic health care and education to the people at the end of the tracks who don't have it," he said.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said the best thing rich countries could do was to keep their promises on aid.

"There is hope if we do what we say, if we honour our commitments, if we provide a level playing field," he said during an address at a church in south London.

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