With the belief that the developed world has a responsibility to fund international development programs, the UK previously committed itself to the 0.7% target [that is 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) would be spent on international development].
The promise was made in 1970. Some 35 years later, the world is still waiting for the promise to be kept.
In the 2004 Comprehensive Spending Review, the Chancellor committed to raising aid spending to 0.47% of GNI by 2007/08. That would mean a jump in aid of £1.5 billion by 2008.
If growth continued at that rate the UK should finally reach its promised 0.7% target by 2013.
This new commitment is significant and welcome. Yet, by 2013, some 45 million people will be newly infected with HIV.
Only half of Africa's children will complete primary school and one in six will die before their fifth birthday.
Although UK aid is growing in volume, in historical terms it is not keeping pace with the leaps in British wealth. Britain gives a smaller proportion of its national wealth than it did in 1979, when 0.51% of British gross national income went on development assistance.