Make poverty history

The Conservative Party shares the desire to make poverty history. We know that global poverty is a matter of deep concern to the British people, as was demonstrated by their amazingly generous response to the Asian tsunami crisis. Our policy on international development combines this spirit of compassion and generosity with realism and practicality. At the General Election earlier this year, the Conservative Party proposed to give more aid, and spend it better. We would have made free trade fairer and fair trade freer. We would have delivered faster and deeper debt relief.
We are against forcing unreasonable conditions on poor countries such as having to introduce user fees for greater transparency in the decision-making process of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. We would have used our aid to encourage everything that is needed for poverty reduction: good government, sound economic policies, property rights and the rule of law.
The Conservative Party would have increased spending on the Department for International Development by £800m over three years, rising from £4.5bn in 2005/06 to £5.3bn in 2007/08. This would have matched, measure for measure, the spending plans of the current Labour government. We would have also worked towards meeting the UN target of spending 0.7% of national income on aid by 2013.
Labour have proposed a new International Finance Facility (IFF) designed to frontload aid to poor countries. Unfortunately, the Government’s rhetoric has exceeded its ability to generate a wide international consensus on the merits of the proposal. We support the principle of the IFF, but remain concerned to ensure that the extra money raised now does not endanger aid flows in the future.
As well as spending more, Conservatives would have spent better. British aid programmes are already among the best in the world, but our studies have found significant efficiency savings. Every penny we saved would have been ploughed straight back into spending to reduce poverty.
We supported small-scale, practical interventions, not big-ticket prestige projects. We would have devoted more resources to priority areas such as tackling HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, and providing safe drinking water and sanitation. We would have argued forcefully within the EU for a re-alignment of its aid budget, too much of which is not spent on the poorest. In badly-governed countries we would have distributed more of our aid through non-governmental organisations which are often more effective than governments at reducing poverty.
A Conservative Government would have used the British Presidency of the G8 and EU to make free trade fairer and fair trade freer. We would have taken action to open our markets to export from poorer countries, allowing them to work and trade their way out of poverty. We would have pushed for continuing reform of the wasteful and unfair Common Agricultural Policy, and demanded an end to export subsidies that harm farmers in poor countries. We would have supported a multilateral, rules-based world trade system, and established an Advocacy Fund to help poor countries fight their corner at the World Trade Organisation. We believe that poor countries should be allowed a finite period of protection for vulnerable industries, particularly where poor people are heavily dependent upon them.
We supported the Government’s extension of bilateral debt relief, and would have pushed for reform of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative to deliver faster and deeper multilateral debt relief.
Our policies reflect both a deep moral outrage at the continued existence of desperate poverty around the world, and a recognition of the practical steps that must be taken to eliminate it.

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