Christian anti-poverty campaigner supports PM on overseas aid

The leader of a Christian anti-poverty movement in the UK has praised the Prime Minister for his support of overseas aid.

David Cameron has pledged to increase aid to the poorest countries to 0.7% by 2013, despite opposition in the party.

Joel Edwards, international director of Micah Challenge, also criticised calls for the overseas aid budget to be cut and the money invested in defence instead.

Mr Edwards was responding to claims by ex-Government Minister Gerald Howarth who said he has not met a single Conservative MP who supports the Prime Minister's stance on foreign aid.

"Perhaps Mr Howarth doesn't see that overseas aid, wisely spent, helps to create stability, jobs and democracy. Good aid will mean less conflict and fewer wars," Mr Edwards said.

"Good on Mr Cameron. He may be in a minority in his own party but the important thing is that he is keeping a promise made by the UK Government in 2000.

"It is a moral stance and absolutely the right one but the UK government still has some work to do in making sure that the money is directed to the most needy poor and is backed by higher levels of accountability and transparency.

"And we should keep to our overseas aid commitments at the same time of being very aware of poverty in the UK."

Micah Challenge is putting pressure on the government to keep up its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals to halve extreme global poverty by 2015.

Mr Edwards added that keeping promises to the poor made good economic and business sense.

He said: "African economies are growing at around 12 per cent a year and the UK could benefit from selling our goods to an increasingly prosperous continent.

"Hopefully Mr Cameron's stance will encourage countries like Italy, Japan, the US and Germany to follow suit. At the moment they are failing the world's poorest people."