The British aid budget would be used to send young people to carry out voluntary work in some of the world’s poorest nations, under proposals unveiled by Birmingham MP Andrew Mitchell.
Mr Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield), Conservative Shadow International Development Secretary, also announced plans to scrap aid to China – which receives almost £40 million a year from the UK, even though it could afford to spend £20 billion on a spectacular Olympic games.
The proposals are part of the Conservative international development green paper, launched by Mr Mitchell and Tory leader David Cameron.
Conservatives have pledged to continue increasing spending on aid, even if the recession and falling tax revenues mean that funding for public services at home, including schools, needs to be cut. Britain currently sends around £8 billion overseas to help poorer nations.
A Tory green paper, called One World Conservatism, set out plans to use the aid budget to send more young people to carry out voluntary work in developing countries, as part of proposals for a civilian “national service” which would see the nation’s youth taking part in community work.
Government officials in the Department for International Development would also be sent to spend a week living with a poor family overseas, to help them understand the lives of the people they are supposed to be serving.
A Conservative government would end aid to China, and concentrate resources on Commonwealth nations with which Britain has historical links.
It would also give the public a say in where aid money went, setting up a £40 fund called “MyAid” complete with a website allowing people to vote on the schemes they support most – with the winners receiving extra cash.
In future years, the fund nay be increased by pledging to match whatever the public raises from the annual Comic Relief event, which came to £80 million this year.
Other proposals include creating an independent watchdog on the effectiveness of British aid, and linking aid directly to independently-audited evidence of real progress in countries where money is being spent.
Recipients which could demonstrate they had increased the number of people receiving health care, for example, could become eligible for extra funding.
Mr Mitchell said: “A time of hardship around the world is not the time to reduce the support we offer.”