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Duncan: International development is too important for party political squabbling

Speech at Conservative Campaign Headquarters

"Our view is that International Development is an issue that is too important for party political squabbling. It should be an issue that unites, not divides. I want to build the broadest possible cross-party consensus on development policy and then present it as a united British approach that can be implemented consistently by whoever is in government here.

There will always be grounds for legitimate disagreement, and I am happy to have a debate over matters of real intellectual principle - for example, over the appropriate role of free trade or over the extent to which we should impose conditions on our aid.

But this mature - and much needed - debate cannot take place if we have any repeat of Labour's conduct over the past few weeks.

For weeks - despite the unequivocal figures included in our spending plans - Labour continued to peddle the outright lie that we intended to cut spending by £800m. They even linked this false allegation to an attempt to solicit members and money for themselves, claiming that Labour was the only party that cares about the plight of the world's poor.

This amounts to obtaining money by deception. It is simply unacceptable.

Our document this morning is a cogent approach to some of the world's most compelling problems. If Hilary Benn wants to retain his reputation he should back off, and grow up. Labour has no monopoly on compassion, and they should join us in a cross-party alliance to tackle global poverty."

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