by Ray Fleming

S INCE I complained earlier in the week about David Cameron's distractions from UK priorities it may seem inconsistent if I welcome his appointment yesterday to chair a new United Nations committee to recommend objectives for the next Millennium Development period which begins in 2015. But although Mr Cameron may have been responsible for more policy U-turns than most prime ministers he has been unwavering in his commitment to maintaining UK support for overseas development aid, even to the extent of ring-fencing it against any raid by his Chancellor of the Exchequer and in the face of considerable criticism from Conservative backbench MPs who think the money would be better spent at home. So the invitation from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Mr Cameron's acceptance of it are logical and make good sense.

The current Millennium Development goals -- halving extreme hunger in the world, halting the spread of Aids and providing universal primary education by 2015 -- will probably not be met because of the global economic crisis which set in after they had been defined. Mr Cameron will therefore need to consider whether they should be persevered with or whether the huge bilateral and multilateral sums devoted to development aid should be refocused, for instance on economic development rather than humanitarian priorities - an approach which he and his International Development minister Andrew Mitchell are believed to share.


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