Tories outline international development plans

• Party promises to increase spending despite recession
• Cameron criticised over plans for greater

David Cameron will today outline how the Conservative Party plans to maintain its pledge to increase spending on international development despite growing pressure for cuts.

The Conservative leader will argue that failing to reduce poverty could increase global threats such as terrorism and climate change.

He will promise to introduce a new “payment by results” system under which poor countries must prove that funds are being used effectively to reduce poverty before receiving greater resources. The proposal is aimed at preventing corrupt or inefficient governments receiving increased funding.

Andrew Mitchell, the shadow international development secretary, argued that the plan would ensure greater transparency and accountability in aid spending.

“We need to get tough and insist that governments that receive our aid use it wisely,” he said. “Under a Conservative Government, Britain's generosity will be matched by a relentless focus on value for money.”

The proposal is included in the party’s One World Conservatism Green Paper, which reaffirms the party’s commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on international development by 2013.

Cameron also plans to increase private sector involvement in providing health and education, with aid vouchers allowing impoverished communities the chance to choose the help they receive.

But the plan came under criticism from the government and aid agencies last night. A spokesman for Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, warned that reducing aid to the state sector could leave the poorest families without access to healthcare or education.

Oxfam said that the introduction of aid vouchers made little sense when there were often no health or education services available outside of the state.

With the exception of health, international development is the only area the Tories have promised to protect from cuts in the first term of a Conservative government.