Liam Fox’s concerns about setting legal targets for increasing overseas aid spending – which were aired in a leaked letter yesterday – are widely shared on the Conservative benches. Many MPs believe the plan is unaffordable at a time of public spending cuts. And plenty are happy to speak out about their concerns.

Philip Davies, an executive member of the backbench 1922 committee, challenged David Cameron on the issue last week. Davies told us: Read more

I revealed last night that five of Britain’s main aid charities (including Oxfam and Save the Children) have written to Andrew Mitchell, development secretary, to express concerns about his dropping of scores of aid targets. He has replied, insisting that aid will still be ring-fenced and that in some cases will in fact increase.

The story is buried deep in the furthest corner of ft.com but you can find it here. Larry Elliott, economics editor at the Guardian, has his own take on it this morning here. As I wrote:

Coalition officials insist that the targets were only “input tracking mechanisms” that are irrelevant to spending decisions or resource allocation by Dfid. This would instead be determined by three seperate reviews of aid that are taking place at present….But in their letter the five charities said that those public commitments being dropped had often been “vital political and technical tools” to ensure effective delivery of policy. Many had strong public backing, were measurable targets for holding governments to account and provided international comparison and leverage on other governments.

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I’m told that Andrew Mitchell, the development secretary, will announce this afternoon that he’s appointing Lord Ashdown to a new humanitarian role: “Chair of the Emergency Response Review“. Read more