Brazil’s move above the UK in the world’s latest economic rankings has produced a predictable outcry about the fact that we still give the country aid at all. As lives are at stake, though, the issue surely deserves a slightly more thoughtful response. At a time when it is estimated that more than 9 million children die each year from largely preventable causes we have a moral duty to do everything in our power to help them.
Over the course of this Parliament the Government will spend more than £50bn on foreign aid and development. When we are spending at a rate we cannot afford and are having to make cuts to Government spending, the argument is made that we should therefore cut this area of the budget. Such brutal selfishness should be dismissed: the pertinent question is surely not whether we can afford to help, but how we can best help. It seems ridiculous that we can still believe that aid is the answer.
Take some of the more controversial of countries to have received money in recent years – China, Brazil and India. These places have been hugely successful; formerly termed "emerging economies", they now loom as potential giants. In many ways western economies are right to envy their position. But all is not well. The abjec