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International aid: Government decides not to amend aid law to protect donations

The UK Government has decided against implementing its election pledge to enshrine in the law a minimum level for international aid linked to national income levels. This is despite a further promise when they came to power that the law would be passed by the middle of their current term.

Under the proposals, the UK Government would be legally obliged to pledge a minimum level of international aid, which would have been set at 0.7% of national income.

This was included in the Conservative Party manifesto for the 2010 General Election, which saw the Tories win narrowly, and the creation of a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.

Andrew Mitchell, the development secretary, told a national newspaper this week that the public would find it hard to swallow any commitment to giving more money away, at a time when public finances are under the greatest strain for a generation.

"The British public would not think it was sensible for us to bring forward declaratory legislation ahead of vital legislation for our economic recovery," he wrote.

However, he added that the delay was also simply a matter of time in the parliamentary diary, and that when sufficient time was available the law was ready to go.

""I don't think it physically can appear now because there is not enough time left. We have signed off on the bill and it's now with the business managers. They will proceed with it when there is parliamentary time," he added.

The move has left several groups disappointed. Labour has said it is disappointed that the Government was unable to deliver on a key election promise, and the NGO Christian Aid said it feared that this would mean the Government moving away from the policy altogether.

Sol Oyuela, Christian Aid's senior political adviser said: "The UK has long been a leader in international development. Maintaining the pledge to legislate during this difficult economic period will send a powerful signal for other countries to follow, that any economic recovery 'will not be built on the backs of the world's poor'."

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